I have great respect for attorney Marshall H. Tanick and have appreciated his commentaries over the years, including "Camera Cops: Something's wrong with this picture" (Dec. 1). His admonition to not revive a failed earlier program is well taken.
However, some kind of better thought-out and better written program is sorely needed. Cars blazing through red lights, not even pretending to slow down, is an everyday occurrence, as are unprecedentedly high speeds on our streets. We all see it daily and some unfortunates are being injured or killed by these scofflaws.
"Scofflaw" is the right label for those who flout the traffic laws with little worry about being caught or punished. That's the situation we currently have.
Tanick lists problems with the previous "camera cops" programs. As an attorney, he should help our Legislature design a new program that remedies those problems he outlined.
First, "poor quality" camera equipment. Write quality standards into the new law's language.
Second, and third, levying a fine on the owner of the vehicle, even if someone else was driving it, and requiring the vehicle owner to prove they were not driving at the time.
Being licensed to drive a car is not a God-given right. It is a privilege granted by the state and already comes with some rules and restrictions. Applications for a new or renewed license in Minnesota should include new language such as, "When you accept this driver's license you agree to be fully responsible for the operation of your vehicle and any misuse by you or anyone you permit to drive it. You also surrender any right to seek legal recourse for any penalties imposed for violating programs like Camera Cop."
If you authorize somebody to drive your car, you are responsible for their driving misbehavior. If a "camera cop" shows your car violating the law at a date, time and place, you are responsible for knowing who was driving and for fines issued against you, the owner. If your car was stolen, you must report to police.
"Camera cops" would catch and penalize these scofflaws and wouldn't require risky high-speed pursuits.
Fourth problem: racism and camera placement. Cameras should be located in areas of highest traffic violations, independent of racial makeup of those areas. Routine, periodic review of those violation areas and placements should be in the language, too.
This may seem like a harsh step. But I and many others can no longer tolerate these lawbreakers who endanger us daily.
Instead of only complaining about the previous programs, help us, on behalf of those injured or killed by scofflaw drivers, to adopt new laws that make these measures legal and enforceable and our roads safer.
James Bukstein lives in Minneapolis.