Stephen Ruth is a man with a mission: he’s busy painting over the lenses, or cutting the wires, of traffic cameras at intersections. At first, I thought it was petty vandalism, throw the book at him, or some deep obsession with privacy…but no. There’s an ethical reason for it.
Wherever the cameras were installed, the county intentionally shortened the duration of the yellow lights from 5 seconds to 3 seconds, knowing that it would increase the frequency of traffic violations (and traffic accidents).
The shortened duration times at the traffic lights generate $32 million for Suffolk County, which is why the county allows the practice to continue despite their own study showing they lead to an increase in accidents with injuries.
Such a little thing, and it brings in $32,000,000. I would call that an elegant scam, except that it’s killing and injuring people. And surprise — the police are supporting Ruth.
And after he cut the wires, he called the news to cover his act of civil disobedience, which resulted in his arrest after police received pressure from politicians. Ruth said police and sheriff deputies support him, because they’re aware of the shortened yellow lights.
Some may even testify on his behalf if his case goes to trial. When he was in jail for his most recent arrest, a sheriff’s deputy even offered to bail him out.
You want another surprise? The county is in bed with Xerox.
Ruth pointed out some cameras that were put up have been taken down after they fell short of daily contract-quota with Xerox to produce 25 citations, per camera, between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., which costs Suffolk County $2,132 per day, according to the Xerox contract with the county.
Xerox collects $13 from Suffolk County for each ticket, which increases to $33 per ticket when a camera generates more than 90 tickets in a month.
Shouldn’t the goal of law enforcement be to reduce the number of violations? These guys have incentives to increase the number!