Residents across cash-strapped states are increasingly turning to private detectives as cities and towns cut police forces to contend with deep budget cuts….Of course, not everyone can afford private police help… It’s another facet of how income inequality is playing out in America — as cities are forced to cut their budgets, even police protection is more accessible to those with cash….
Red-light camera tickets were up 343 percent between Aug. 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2012 compared with the same period in 2011, according to an analysis by WTOP and AAA Mid-Atlantic. In those five months last year, police issued 15,133 tickets, compared with 3,423 in 2011….Overall, there also was a 105 percent jump between 2011 and 2012 for the full year, according to a WTOP and AAA-Mid Atlantic analysis….
Red Light Cameras in Rockville
Source: Rockville City Police Department, 2013
Update Speed and Red Light Camera Programs
Source: Susan J. Farag, Memorandum, PS Committee #1, September 13, 2012
…Historically, each program has been administered by a separate vendor until last year. In 2011, the two contracts were combined. Xerox (formerly ACS) is the current provider for both the Safe Speed and Red Light Enforcement Programs…
In December 2012, EFF organized a Surveillance and Human Rights Camp in Brazil that brought together the expertise of a diverse group of people concerned about state electronic surveillance in Latin American and other countries. Among other concerns, participants spotlighted the many ways in which the private sector is increasingly playing a role in state surveillance. Here are a few examples:
– Voluntary Agreements Between Law Enforcement and Private Companies…
– Law Enforcement Approaching Service Providers Without Legally-Required Authorization…
– Governments Pressure Private Sector…
Workshop materials include:
– Legal struggles over interception capability in the United States
– Batallas legales alrededor de las leyes de interceptación de las comunicaciones en los Estados Unidos
– Batalhas legais contra as regras de interceptação nos Estados Unidos
– Lessons from the United States: The Practical Necessity of The International Principles on Surveillance and Human Rights
– Lecciones desde los Estados Unidos: La necesidad práctica de los Principios Internacionales de Vigilancia y Derechos Humanos
– Lições Dos Estados Unidos: A Necessidade Practica Dos Principios Internacionais Sobre Vigilancia e Direcitors Humanos
Government Appetite Growing for Twitter User Data
Source: David Kravets, Wired, Threat Level, January 28, 2013
Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange says the city will pursue a hybrid model for its police and fire departments to reduce expenses and maintain services, as outlined in a new report from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. … The study led to the organization recommending the city investigate and consider a new hybrid model for providing public safety services similar to the city of Monroe. …
The amount Toronto taxpayers will save by contracting-out cleaning at police facilities will be less than a third of the original estimates. Instead of saving $2.5 million a year, budget papers indicate the annual savings will be only about $800,000. The city has pondered putting cleaning services out for contract for years, but council didn’t go along with the idea until last year, after Mayor Rob Ford was elected and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, vowed to outsource anything that wasn’t nailed down. … Under the Ford administration, garbage pick-up west of Yonge St. and TTC bus cleaning have also been outsourced.
The savings on the police contract fall “wildly short of the $2.5 million that was predicted,” said Councillor Pam McConnell, who opposed extending the contract. The $2.5-million figure was extrapolated from a private-sector quote in 2003 to clean four police buildings: police headquarters and three stations. … Councillors were told heavy-duty contract cleaners make $12.27 an hour and light-duty cleaners earn $10.59 hourly, while the city had been paying $23.83 and $22.60 an hour, respectively. …
Officials in the District, Maryland and elsewhere insist there’s a foolproof way to ensure a photo radar ticket never appears in your mailbox: Don’t speed. That bromide has helped provide cover for greedy municipal bureaucrats as they grab millions in revenue in the name of safety. New evidence reveals the speed camera frequently fibs….Ron Ely, who runs the StopBigBrotherMD.org website, has pummeled Maryland officials with public records requests regarding their camera programs. He struck gold when he came upon a cache of documents from the city of Baltimore describing the dodgy results the cameras often produce…Bad incentives encourage mistakes, as one driver in Pennsylvania learned after receiving a bogus citation. …There’s a simple reason for the slapdash quality control. ACS and other camera contractors receive a bounty payment for each citation issued, creating a direct financial incentive for mailing out marginal tickets. There’s no corresponding incentive for accuracy. So it’s not a surprise to learn at least 1,200 motorists improperly received tickets because the trigger speed on the camera was set 5 mph too low. Another 3,145 citations went out with the wrong location listed….
In Arizona an unsettling trend appears to be underway: the use of private prison employees in law enforcement operations.
The state has graced national headlines in recent years as the result of its cozy relationship with the for-profit prison industry. Such controversies have included the role of private prison corporations in SB 1070 and similar anti-immigrant legislation disseminated in other states; a 2010 private prison escape that resulted in two murders and a nationwide manhunt; and a failed bid to privatize nearly the entire Arizona prison system.
And now, recent events in the central Arizona town of Casa Grande show the hand of private corrections corporations reaching into the classroom, assisting local law enforcement agencies in drug raids at public schools. …
…Given the fact that such high school raids may serve as the foundation for larger narcotics investigations which may net additional adult offenders — and given the tremendous pressure for information a prosecutor may exert on a student through discretionary use of “drug-free school zone” sentencing enhancements — concerned citizens say that CCA’s involvement in such raids constitutes a clear conflict of interest….
The city is marching toward a contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after rejecting a public safety tax proposal that could have kept the city’s police department intact. A unanimous City Council has decided against asking residents to pay additional taxes to fund public safety services. Still, it will be months before the completion of a $90,000 study designed to evaluate the cost of contracting policing services from the County….
Legislation intended to push towns to share more municipal services — and punish those that choose not to — could be voted on by New Jersey lawmakers this week. …. The bill originally called for civil service rules to be temporarily relaxed or suspended in such instances. Municipal officials said suspending the rules would remove one of the biggest impediments to shared services, but several public employees unions blasted the idea, claiming the protections were needed to shield employees from political influence and retribution….Sweeney said the penalty is needed because some towns continue to refuse to enter into cost-saving agreements such as consolidated police and fire departments….
The president and vice president of the union that represents Lawrence Township’s police dispatchers appeared at last week’s Lawrence Township Council meeting to urge council not to trust such a vital service like dispatching to an unknown outside vendor.
Privatization of Police Dispatching, Ambulance Services Being Considered
Source: Michael Ratcliffe, Lawrenceville Patch, September 7, 2012
Lawrence Township Council Tuesday evening (Sept. 4) directed Township Manager Richard Krawczun to solicit competitive bids from vendors in an effort to determine if the township could save money by laying off its civilian police dispatchers and emergency medical technicians and, in their place, privatize the township’s police dispatching and ambulance services. … Earlier in the meeting, Krawczun noted that he had been meeting with the various unions that represent municipal employees. While he had nothing definitive to report, he reported that the unions were receptive to having further discussions about possible labor contract concessions to help solve the township’s budget woes and save jobs.