Globe City Council passes photo radar
Posted: Wednesday, Oct 14th, 2009
BY: Andrea Marcanti/Staff Writer

GLOBE — The debate over photo enforcement in Globe was at its peak on Monday night, as several members of the community were in attendance to speak out against the addition of photo radar. The citizens’ voices fell on deaf ears, as the council went on to approve the contract with Redflex photo enforcement after a 3-2 vote.

The hearing started with an hour-long presentation by Darren Kolack, the sales representative from Redflex. He hoped to clear up any common questions that the public might have about the program and how it works. Kolack was followed by a short presentation by Chief Dan Melvin of the Globe Police Department. “When the idea first came across the board, I wasn’t for it, but after I took a better look at the program, I found it to be a useful aid for Globe Police,” said Melvin. Melvin went on to discuss the pros and cons of bringing photo radar to Globe, saying that the number one reason for bringing it here was to increase safety and slow down traffic. Melvin also gave a few statistics regarding previous accidents in Globe. “Between January of 2005 and May of 2009 there have been 585 accidents, resulting in 231 injuries and four deaths,” said Melvin.

The Globe Police Department is hopeful that the cameras will produce slower and more orderly traffic and less accident-related injuries.

On the other end of the argument, Sheriff Paul Babeu from Pinal County spoke to the council against photo radar. Babeu terminated Pinal County’s contract with Redflex earlier this year, saying that the program was not effective in impacting driver behavior. “Motorists are now guilty until proven innocent, there is something inherently wrong with this. You cannot replace a police officer,” said Babeu. “Do you want your city to be known as ‘The City of Photo Radar’?” Babeu went on to say that Redflex’s interest in Globe is purely for profit, and the best way to slow down traffic is to put more officers on the streets.

After a huge applause from citizens, it was their turn to speak up. Each citizen was given three minutes to express their opinion to the council. Jefferson Leatherman of Globe said, “Redflex has never won a popular vote. Everyone thinks this is going to be the cash cow, this is going to sink the city.”

Sam Palmer of Globe said, “This is a misbehavior tax.” Palmer also asked how the council could buy into a “beautiful corporate structured sales presentation.”

David Cook said, “You can’t take all this money away from the citizens here. People are against it 3 to 1 easy.”

Citizens asked several questions that went unanswered by the council or Redflex. Where there any other surveys done besides the one conducted by Redflex? How much money will Redflex profit from this? How much money will the city receive? Has the city looked into other avenues of speed enforcement? Citizens at one point asked the council to bring this up for a vote in a general election. After two and a half hours of arguing with the community, Mayor Fernando Shipley, who brought Redflex to Globe, said, “When you’re in a position of responsibility, you have to make tough decisions.”

After the public forum, Councilman Terence Wheeler commented that, “Maybe we should table this item and do the statistics before we vote.”

Councilman Lerry Alderman agreed with Wheeler that more studies should be done. “I’m going to vote at the will of the people, and just ask community members to stop speeding.“ Councilwoman Thea Wilshire made the motion to go forward with the Redflex contract, and Councilwoman Carmen Casillas seconded the motion. Councilwoman Mary Ann Uhl voted yes to photo enforcement, while Alderman and Wheeler were opposed. Councilman Dezi Baker was absent. Before the final vote, Councilman Wheeler asked Redflex sales representative Darren Kolack for more statistics . “We can discuss all of that post contract,” said Kolack. The contract with Redflex Photo enforcement was passed after a 3 to 2 vote.