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.

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Comments on “New Orleans Cops Caught Filling Their Pockets With Red Light Camera Cash”

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21 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Nunc (profile) says:

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.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: 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

James C. Walker (profile) says:

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

Brandt Hardin (user link) says:

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

Al says:

Re: Profiting from Policing

it’s not capitalism that distorts anything. all capitalism is is freedom. the freedom of people to do what people would do without some thieving government destroying them.

capitalism has only led to the most prosperous and free nation in the history of the world.

it’s not capitalism’s fault.

it’s just plain old corruption.

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