Letter to the Editor: Say no to speed cameras

To the Editor:

The cities of Lansing and New Albin have received proposals to install automated speed enforcement cameras. These cameras are nothing but a revenue generator with minimal public safety impact, and they violate multiple aspects of a citizen’s right to due process, as protected by multiple amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Speed cameras send motorists a ticket at least a week after the violation occurred, which does nothing to stop the behavior in the moment. Proponents may argue that the most public safety impact is seen through the local drivers who become accustomed to the cameras. However, when discussing the localities of offenders cited in New Albin, the chief of police stated, “90% of the vehicles are those passing threw [sic].” If we install these cameras on the off chance that the 10% of local speeders might slow down, we are engaged in the very definition of a minimal public safety impact.

The Constitution of the United States of America enshrines the right to due process in a court of law, and speed cameras violate that right. They deprive you of your presumption of innocence and force you to prove that you did not commit a violation, which is not how the court system works. They may assign you guilt despite the fact that someone else committed the crime; if your friend borrows your car and gets a ticket, they send the fine to you (the owner) instead of your friend (the driver). This is not justice.

Proponents will point to a 2019 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that upheld the legality of speed cameras, but it is important to note that the ruling did not issue judgement on any of the rights I have cited. In fact, that Supreme Court ruling questioned the motives of the cameras when it asked, “If promoting safety were Cedar Rapids’ real goal, why does the ordinance penalize vehicle owners and not the drivers where the deterrence function would be much greater?”

Our neighbors have taken a stand to protect the rights of their citizens. The Missouri Supreme Court banned these as unconstitutional. The Wisconsin State Legislature passed a law banning these. And the Minnesota Supreme Court declared red light cameras unconstitutional, which set a precedent that effectively banned speed cameras.

Incidentally, the Constitutional right infringements I cited (violation of presumption of innocence and being cited for someone else’s crime) are the exact same due process violations that the Missouri Supreme Court cited when declaring these cameras unconstitutional. If we install these cameras, we are essentially selling our constitutional rights and shaking down every motorist who travels through town.

These cameras violate our Constitutional right to due process, they are nothing but a revenue generator with minimal safety impact, and they encourage any potential visitors to avoid us in favor of our neighbors who aren’t going to fleece them. Say no to greed. Say no to violating our Constitutional rights. Say no to speed cameras.

Andy Kelleher
New Albin