Just recently I came across this Letter to the Editor and felt that it would be of interest to all who live or drive through Columbus Ohio.

Will this atrocity be cming to your neighborhood soon? It will be in Nevada, the RLC are already installed.

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Having served as a police officer for nearly 11
years, I would like to inform Columbus residents
about the truth behind the controversial
red-light cameras.

Around Christmastime, I allowed some of my close
friends to use my pickup truck to pick up gifts
for their families. Apparently, while one of my
friends was using my pickup truck, the truck went
through a traffic light that turned red just 0.23
of a second before the truck made it to the
center of the intersection. The truck had cleared
the intersection before the opposing traffic?s
light turned green.

In the course of these events, a photo and video
was taken of my vehicle passing under the light
and clearing the intersection in less than 1
second. Sixteen days later, I received a citation
in the mail, along with a photo of the vehicle
and the violation. The instructions on the
citation demanded an immediate payment of a $95
bond, before any hearing could be scheduled.
Failure to pay the $95 bond would result in an
additional $25 late fee, forfeiture of any future
hearings and an immediate finding of guilty.

After interrogating my friends and not finding
anyone willing to confess to the violation, I
decided to pay the bond and ask for a hearing.

When I went to the hearing, I was shocked to find
out how the Columbus City Council and Mayor
Michael B. Coleman are violating the rights of
Columbus residents.

I discovered that the citation I received was not
a citation at all. It was a demand for money. In
a civil proceeding (yes, civil). Basically, the
city is suing you for the money.

I found that the "bond" that was demanded was the
amount that the city is suing you for and not a
fine at all. The term bond means in lieu of jail;
however no jail time is even possible in any
civil proceeding.

I also found out that the city takes the photos
from the rear of the vehicle, which makes it
impossible to identify the driver of the vehicle.
Therefore, there is no way the city can prove who
was driving the vehicle.

The alleged citation that I received was never
signed by an officer. The citation is
computer-generated and, therefore, can be
produced by any office personnel.

The money collected from these fines mostly
benefit a private company. The company takes the
majority of the fines collected, and private
individuals benefit from people?s mistakes.

The city gets a sizable portion as well and
benefits in revenue.

Believe it or not, the hearing itself is even
held at the Columbus Police Division and not an
impartial place, such as a courtroom. How
intimidating.

What does this all mean? When you are pulled over
by a police officer, a few things must happen:
The officer must identify the driver; the officer
identifies the violation, issues a citation and
signs the citation, swearing to the facts
contained in the citation; the officer issues a
court date, and the person receiving the citation
can either pay the citation or come to court to
contest the charges. This is called due process.

The court then has 31 days to hear the case and
have a trial to determine the guilt or innocence
of the defendant. Any fines collected benefit the
state, county and city, as well as certain
organizations, such as domestic-violence
prevention, etc. In no case is it legal for any
fines to be paid to any private individual or
company.

This red-light camera program is a scam,
basically government-sponsored extortion, and is
a violation of our rights.

The city of Columbus sends a ticket, which it
purports to be a real traffic citation, and
demands a bond of $95. This makes people believe
that they will lose their license or go to jail
if they do not pay.

The city deprives us of our right to due process
by demanding a payment first, before a trial or
hearing. This would be like someone suing you and
making you pay the amount you are sued for before
you can have a judge determine your guilt of
innocence.

The city disregards your right to a speedy trial
within 31 days and issues at its convenience.

An attorney hired and paid by the red-light
program hears each case and issues a ruling while
two police officers stand over you and look on.
Ninetynine-point-nine percent of the rulings are
guilty. Imagine that!

You can appeal this hearing by paying an
additional $116 to have your case heard in a real
court of law, if you want, but if you win you
will never get your $116 back; you will only get
back your $95, and the city of Columbus will
benefit even more.

Most of your $95 will go to a private business,
which will make private individuals rich, and the
spoils of this wealth will be shared with the
city of Columbus, all in the name of safety.

Coleman says this program saves lives. I would
beg to differ. A wellplaced patrol car at key
intersections can make a great difference, rather
than a hidden camera and a program that totally
violates the rights of the people of Columbus and
those who may pass through our city. It?s all
about revenue and the generation of funds for the
city of Columbus.

It?s no wonder the General Assembly passed a bill
to make this program in its current form
unlawful, and it?s sad that Gov. Bob Taft vetoed
it.

Ohio?s governor and Columbus? mayor chose to
waive the constitutional rights of the people and
support this revenue-generating program.