Who’s Watching the Traffic Camera Companies?

Red light and traffic cameras have been pitched to the public as a way to more accurately police intersections, improve public safety, and save money. While this may still possibly be true, a couple of camera companies look like they might be running into issues here in the commonwealth.

First, in Norfolk, Redflex Traffic Systems, a company based in Australia, might not be able to fulfill its contract.

According to a report filed with its Australian regulator (Redflex is an Australian company), it looks like they’re headed to bankruptcy. From TheNewspaper.com:

Redflex Traffic Systems lost $11.8 million in the past six months, continuing the Australian photo ticketing firm’s losing streak. In a report released to the Australian Securities Exchange on Monday, Redflex conceded that it has failed to pull out of the nosedive it has been in since 2014, when news of the Chicago, Illinois criminal bribery scandal surfaced.

Redflex last year leaned on shareholders to contribute $15.6 million to shore up the company’s finances, but the capital infusion was not enough to kickstart a recovery. The best news Redflex had to offer shareholders was that the losses were not as bad as they were in the last report to the market.

That raises some serious questions for Norfolk. Are they going to keep the contracts with the company, which looks like it may not be able to service them? Is Norfolk looking for a new vendor? Will the cameras just go away if Redflex goes bust?

Second, up the road in Richmond and Manassas, a different traffic camera company– Force Multiplier Solutions–has been involved with corruption and bribery in Dallas. In this case, their cameras are supposed to be used on buses to watch for motorists illegally overtaking them and other safety issues.

The reports out of Texas includes allegations of funneling millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks all while the actual deliverable – the cameras – have gone missing.

As a committee works to shut down the Dallas County Schools agency, officials hit a new roadblock with the failure to locate some of the surveillance cameras that were the root of DCS’ financial collapse.

The dissolution committee, formed after voters in November elected to dissolve the century-old agency, sent teams to El Paso and San Antonio last weekend in an attempt to find some of those cameras.

[…]

“They weren’t very successful,” Alan King, CEO of the committee, said of the search for cameras outside Dallas County.

King said all of the cameras have been accounted for in Dallas County.

But that’s not the case, he added, in El Paso and San Antonio, where school districts also reached agreements with DCS to run the program.

“We purchased … 5,800 camera kits. And there’s 12 cameras per kit. We don’t know where they’re all at,” King told other committee members.

Force Multiplier Solutions has registered with SCC with the same registered agent for BusPatrol – the company attempting to do business in Manassas.

At a minimum, the fact that all these companies have been embroiled in controversy, it’s worthwhile to wonder whether or not Norfolk, Manassas, and Richmond did their homework before entering into any agreement. It also begs the question whether the services/products promised have actually been rendered? And, will the municipalities review their contracts with these companies to ensure compliance?

Finally, do any other localities, such as Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, or others have agreements with these companies and will those go under review?

We’re just beginning to find out more about this issue and clearly it’s worth looking into. If they’re policing us, who’s policing them?

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