New Orleans Cops Caught Filling Their Pockets With Red Light Camera Cash

from the that's-uptown,-throw-a-stack-at-'em dept

Red light cameras have proven popular in certain communities (mainly the "law enforcement community"). They're a rather painless way to generate cash, both for the city itself and for the private contractors chosen to install and maintain the system. This influx of cash tends to pervert incentives, leading to questionable tactics being deployed, like shortening yellow lights to increase the "take," while doing little to nothing to increase public safety.

While law enforcement usually benefits indirectly from this new revenue stream, the officers themselves rarely benefit directly from red light tickets. But where there's a will (and a lack of oversight), there's a way. Some enterprising police officers in New Orleans decided the incentives weren't perverse enough, and formed their own company to review photo citations.

Police officers in New Orleans, Louisiana filled their own pockets with red light camera cash by setting up a private company to "review" photo citations off the official clock. The city's inspector general, E. R. Quatrevaux, on Friday released a report documenting how Edwin Hosli, the New Orleans Police Department's (NOPD) 8th District commander, formed his own limited liability company called Anytime Solutions to take advantage of the lucrative business opportunity.

Over a four-and-a-half month period in 2010, Hosli pulled down $7420 from the arrangement for himself. The inspector general released documents not included in the report that show Hosli and several other officers overbilled ACS by $9075. Hosli's share of that was $2055, according to the documents.
The Inspector General noted it's illegal for law enforcement members to form an LLC in order to "manage a detail." Not only that, but the officers' actions violated ethics policies. The low-level corruption began when American Traffic Solutions subcontracted its photo reviews to Affiliated Computer Services, which oddly enough, already handled parking tickets for the city. The then-chief of police, Warren Riley, declared he couldn't spare on-duty officers to review the photo citations. A workaround presented itself when ATS subcontracted review duty to ACS, which then hired off-duty officers to review the collected photos. Robert Mendoza, head of the public works department, greased the wheels.

Soon a handful of hand-picked officers ("Hosli's detail officers") were making money on the side, performing a task that was meant to be part of their normal on-duty workday. The officials involved with illegally enriching off-duty officers then went one step further, attempting to add another criminal charge to their rap sheets.
Officials meeting about the issue decided payments for the detail should be laundered through the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation, a tax-exempt organization that describes itself as "dedicated to supporting the people and processes of the criminal justice system in New Orleans."
Unfortunately for the involved personnel, ACS decided to pay them in a more straightforward (and implicating) fashion.
Instead, ACS paid Hosli's company directly. After investigators got wind of what happened, the kickbacks were terminated.
The report notes that as soon as the officers were caught, they went back to doing it the right way.
"It should be noted that immediately upon notification, the NOPD placed the responsibility of the red light camera image review with on-duty traffic division officers," Quatrevaux concluded.
Well, I suppose that makes everything OK. Wrongs righted by way of business as usual. Other than the "loss" of extra income, no further punishment has been dealt out to those involved. New Orleans will apparently continue to be policed by a combination of opportunists and their deputized cameras. The approval process is back in the hands of on-duty officers, which is an almost imperceptible tilt of the scale back towards "right." The perverse incentives remain, but those reaping the benefits will have to settle for routing it through official channels.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 9:30am

    Boudreaux and Tibedeaux approve.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 9:43am

    You've obviously not spent any time in NOLA.

     

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    Michael, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 10:05am

    On-duty officers used and the overtime budget has been increased by $25,000.

    Problem solved.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 10:22am

    N-LOL-P-D

    Sadly, even at their most corrupt and wicked, they're still better than the historical alternative: vigilance committees. At least the police have to try to look like they're upholding the law.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 10:23am

    Hey, why should private companies make all the money/profit screwing over tax payers with red light cameras?

    Just think of it as a form or protectionism, we're protecting the cops who's jobs we're outsourcing to private companies that are making huge cuts off of each ticket they send out!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 10:36am

    did the NSA have tabs on this? how did they manage to commit this crime under their watchful surveillance eye? i suppose the answer will be that it wasn't worth the attention, in which case WHY DID THE ACTIVITIES OF MILLIONS OF ORDINARY PEOPLE WARRANT IT?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 10:41am

    Any other job pulling this kind of shit would result in immediate termination.

    In the police world, there are either no consequences or they are put on a "PAID" vacation.. er Suspension.

    I understand they have a job that can't be good for their mental health, they don't exactly get to deal with happy people everywhere they go, but this is just unacceptable.

     

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    mdb007 (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 10:50am

    still corrupt

    Guess the 60 minutes story from a few years ago still holds true, most corrupt police force in the country. what A$$holes.

     

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    mdb007 (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 10:51am

    still corrupt

    Guess the 60 minutes story from a few years ago still holds true, most corrupt police force in the country. what A$$holes.

     

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 11:14am

    New Orleans' spirit has fully recovered from Katrina.

    [no further comment required]

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 12:25pm

     

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    Rekrul, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 3:51pm

    I'm surprised that red light cameras haven't become a popular target for paintball practice. Or pellet guns...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 5:24pm

    So who is going to jail for this? Because when normal citizens break the law ...

     

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    Nunc, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 5:57pm

    Red light camera's do work and improve safety, but only if you use them correctly. That means, using a lot of them. Here in the Netherlands there's an automatic camera at virtually every red light. Individual camera's maybe increase accidents, but if most red lights have camera's you'll learn to anticipate.

    Maybe there is also less tampering in the Netherlands because the country goverment receives the ticket income, but local government decides on the location of the camera. A nice division of power, which should be standard in governmental affairs.

     

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      art guerrilla (profile), Jun 20th, 2013 @ 4:08am

      Re:

      encasing babies in concrete does work and improves safety, fortunately, the screams of the baby are muffled by the 4" thick concrete shell...

      i am HIGHLY skeptical of red-light camera improving 'safety' to any *significant* extent, ESPECIALLY in comparison to any of a dozen other tactics which would be more effective, but don't generate extortion money for someone...

      oh, please, please, please, Big Daddy, make me safe against my own will...
      ...OR, GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY LIFE, goons for the state...

      art guerrilla
      aka ann archy
      eof

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 7:13pm

    out_of_the_blue just hates it when due process is enforced.

     

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    James C. Walker, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 7:29pm

    Red light cameras

    Graft, corruption, bribery, etc. are very common in the red light camera cash register business. There is SO much money involved that having it all be clean is unrealistic.

    Red light and speed cameras are a dirty business that invite corruption and graft. It is one of many reasons the industry should be banned in every state, as it is in several now.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

     

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    Brandt Hardin, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Profiting from Policing

    Traffic cameras are just another form of Policing for Profit as Capitalism distorts our Justice System. These companies are bottom-feeders and take a 40% cut of the tickets while creating MORE dangerous intersections by fixing the lengths of yellow lights to entrap drivers. You can read about how private companies and crooked politicians have turned our Police forces on their ear in every attempt to squeeze money out of the general public at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-privatized-police-state.html

     

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    Dan, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 7:39am

     

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