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Update: The court case against the traffic cameras has been dismissed, but the debate won't have a hope of being over until the comission completes it's study.
That study was due on November 1 — and the group has yet to meet.
Bluffton Today has a report on the failure of the group to meet, and The Island Packet notes that the group intends to meet very soon — and the paper also gives the group a rap for not taking its responsibility seriously.
You can read more about what the study is due to accomplish below.
First reporting: While the new law that banned traffic cameras in South Carolina was much talked about, there was a second large part of the bill that was overlooked by most* that calls for a study to be done on the effectiveness of electronic enforcement.
(*In fact, I didn't note a single mention but in TheDigitel's report.)
The Island Packet has briefly mentioned the forthcoming study in an opinion column, but it stirred in me the need to connect our readers with the full proviso of the bill that could well resurrect the Ridgeland-iTraffic system.
The group created by the bill is the "South Carolina Traffic Camera Enforcement Commission", and its report would be due by November 1.
In a nutshell, the measure aims to draw together 13 specific types of individuals for a look into the legality of traffic cameras, if they're effective, how best they should be run, and whether a private company being involved is problematic.
All are smart questions that will help assess just how good the controversial system was.
Here's the full proviso:
SECTION 4. (A) There is established a commission to be known as the South Carolina Traffic Camera Enforcement Commission which must exercise the powers and fulfill the duties contained in this section. The commission is comprised of the following thirteen members:
(1) the Governor, ex officio, or her designee;
(2) the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, or her designee;
(3) the Speaker of the House of Representatives, ex officio, or his designee;
(4) the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, ex officio, or his designee;
(5) the Attorney General of South Carolina, ex officio, or his designee;
(6) the Director of the Department of Public Safety, ex officio, or his designee;
(7) the Director of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, ex officio, or his designee;
(8) the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, ex officio, or his designee;
(9) the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee, ex officio, or his designee;
(10) the President of South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Association, or his designee;
(11) the President of the South Carolina Sheriffs' Association, or his designee;
(12) the President of the South Carolina Bar Association, or his designee; and
(13) the President of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, or his designee.
(B) The Governor, or her designee, shall serve as chairman of the commission.
(C) Designees serving on the commission must have substantial academic or professional experience or specialization in one or more areas of law enforcement, public safety, or civil or criminal justice. Designees serving on the commission must have been a resident of South Carolina since January 1, 2001.
(D) The commission must meet as soon as practicable after appointment to organize itself and elect officers that it considers necessary. Thereafter, the commission must meet as necessary to exercise the powers and fulfill the duties required by this section at the call of the chairman or by a majority of the members. A quorum consists of six members.
(E) The duties of the commission shall be to:
(1) conduct a comprehensive study concerning the use of traffic enforcement camera systems to detect violations of and enforce the state's uniform traffic laws, including, but not limited to, violating speed limits and the failure to obey traffic control signals and stop signs;
(2) develop criteria for assessing the use of traffic enforcement camera systems to detect violations of and enforce the state's uniform traffic laws, including, but not limited to, violating speed limits and the failure to obey traffic control signals and stop signs;
(3) issue a report of its findings concerning utilizing traffic enforcement camera systems to detect violations of and enforce the state's uniform traffic laws. The report must consider and address at least the following issues:
(a) the positives and negatives of a private company's involvement in enforcing traffic laws;
(b) assuming private companies are authorized to participate in enforcing traffic laws, the appropriate distribution of authority between law enforcement and a private company;
(c) whether there is a conflict of interest when a private company is paid a commission based on the number of traffic tickets issued through the use of its traffic enforcement camera systems and, if so, how the conflict of interest may be resolved;
(d) the public policy implications, if any, of a private company reimbursing a state or local government for the use of their law enforcement personnel in connection with the operation of the company's traffic enforcement camera system;
(e) assuming that traffic enforcement camera systems are used to enforce uniform traffic laws, whether a statewide agency such as the Department of Public Safety should be solely authorized to operate the system, whether a statewide agency should operate the system in conjunction with local law enforcement authorities, or whether local law enforcement authorities be solely authorized to operate systems within their jurisdiction;
(f) the accuracy of current traffic enforcement camera systems, specifically whether vehicles violating the speed limit or failing to obey traffic control signals or stop signs, other than the vehicle photographed, trigger the photograph being taken and, if so, whether the technology can be improved to prevent that from occurring;
(g) whether it is important to have a law enforcement officer actually view the vehicle violating a speed limit in order to confirm, with his visual estimation of speed, what the radar indicates, whether an officer viewing a picture being taken of the vehicle is sufficient confirmation, or whether officer confirmation is necessary;
(h) whether traffic enforcement camera systems present a possible visual disturbance for the driver resulting from a flash when the system takes a picture;
(i) whether the use of traffic enforcement camera systems diminish the dangers to and increase the safety of law enforcement personnel;
(j) whether the use of traffic enforcement camera systems decrease the number of speed limit violations and, thereby, increase public safety;
(k) whether the use of traffic enforcement camera systems in connection with law enforcement raise any personal privacy issues;
(l) identify the criminal laws, if any, that should not be enforced by cameras;
(m) whether the information contained in photographs taken by traffic enforcement camera systems should be limited to the enforcement of traffic laws, or whether the information, including, but not limited to, license plate numbers, should also be generally available for use by law enforcement for official law enforcement purposes;
(n) whether there is a difference between using a traffic enforcement camera system to enforce traffic laws related to speed limits and traffic laws requiring obedience to traffic control signals and stop signs;
(o) assuming that traffic enforcement camera systems are used to enforce uniform traffic laws, whether they should be used on all public roads, only on certain roads, or only in certain areas, including, but not limited to, school zones, temporary work zones, and construction zones;
(p) assuming that traffic enforcement camera systems are used to enforce uniform traffic laws, whether there is a way to ensure that traffic enforcement camera systems are being used to improve road safety, and assuming that their use improves road safety, rather than maximizing government revenues resulting from violations of uniform traffic laws;
(q) the constitutionality of utilizing traffic enforcement camera systems to enforce uniform traffic laws and mailing citations to alleged violators, and, if unconstitutional, the manner in which a system may be constitutionally operated;
(r) the public policy implications, if any, raised by citations for uniform traffic law violations being mailed to the alleged violator after the event as opposed to being personally delivered contemporaneous with, or within one hour of, the alleged violation;
(s) whether the state's criminal justice system currently has a sufficient number of judges and magistrates to handle the increased number of citations that would result from statewide use of traffic enforcement camera systems; and
(t) assuming that traffic enforcement camera systems are used to enforce uniform traffic laws, the manner in which the revenue raised should be allocated and the purposes for which it should be used;
(4) make recommendations, if any, for changes to existing law concerning the use of traffic enforcement camera systems to detect and enforce the state's uniform traffic laws, including, but not limited to, violating speed limits and the failure to obey traffic control signals and stop signs. Rather than making recommendations for changes to existing law, the commission also may recommend that no changes are necessary to the existing law that prohibits the use of traffic enforcement cameras to detect traffic regulation violations. Recommendations made pursuant to this item must be contained in the report issued pursuant to item (3).
(F) On or before November 1, 2011, the commission must conclude its business and report its findings to the General Assembly, at which time the commission is dissolved. The General Assembly may extend the dates by which the commission shall submit reports required by this act.
(G) The members of the commission shall serve without compensation and are ineligible for the usual mileage, subsistence, and per diem allowed by law for members of state boards, committees, and commissions.