By on October 5, 2010

The police chief in Oak Ridge, Tennessee received an all-expense paid vacation in Arizona, while collecting his on-duty salary, in return for his providing testimony that helped save Redflex Traffic Systems from paying millions in possible damages. The Australian firm came under fire after it was caught falsely claiming on customs forms that the radar units it had imported were certified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). From 1998 to 2008, every time Redflex turned on a mobile photo radar unit, it violated federal law. When a rival firm, American Traffic Solutions (ATS), discovered this fact, it blew the whistle in a federal court case, the first round of which wrapped up in the spring.

ATS filed suit to claim that Redflex lied to about a dozen cities by offering its services without having properly certified radar units to fulfill the contracts it won. Redflex played dumb throughout the trial. Even though the United States represented the largest market for the company, Karen Finley, the head of North American operations, swore that no one at the firm had any idea that radar equipment required FCC certification to ensure that the transmitters would not, for example, create a potential safety hazard by interfering with air traffic control radar. It was all an “honest mistake,” Finley insisted. The company did not know about the law and the radar they used, once certified, caused no problems with other devices in the electromagnetic spectrum.

For the jury to find Redflex guilty, however, it would have had to conclude that the cities that embraced the Australian company’s cameras felt let down. Redflex kept an ace up its sleeve. In the city of Oak Ridge, for example, the devices issued an average of $200,000 worth of tickets each month. That made officials happy.

“I don’t feel misled by Redflex in any way, shape or form,” Oak Ridge Police Chief David Beams testified.

Beams spent a total of 38 minutes on the stand gushing about his positive experience with Redflex. For that, he received an all-expense paid vacation in Phoenix that included chauffeured rides from the airport, three nights in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and prime rib dinners. Redflex picked up the tab for everything but his salary, which Oak Ridge taxpayers were paying because his stay was considered “official business.”

Thanks to this testimony, the jury had little basis in the law for saying that ATS was entitled to $20 million in damages simply because Redflex violated the law. Redflex asked the federal judge to order ATS to pay $4,293,738 in court costs and attorneys’ fees, but ATS has appealed and the squabble over the money is still pending. Financial concerns are at the heart of the ATS and Redflex dispute because that has always been the top priority of the companies involved. The chief executive of ATS, Jim Tuton, said as much in a videotaped deposition made in advance of the trial. Asked by ATS lawyer Randy J. McClanahan, “Obviously, when you got back into business as American Traffic Solutions, your intention was to make money?” Mr. Tuton responded with one word: “Yes.”


Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

6 Comments on “Tennessee: Top Cop Luxury Vacation Paid By Speed Camera Company...”

  • avatar

    This type of “bribery” may be unpleasant and possibly even illegal, but don’t let this distract you from the real issue:
    Automated law-enforcement is WRONG.  We pay police officers to use their training and judgment when enforcing the law.  Automated enforcement takes away the discretion of the officer and the “accuser”.
    Worse still, the discretion is now in the hands of a for-profit company.  Justice can never be served when profit is the motive.
    Automated law enforcement needs to made illegal at the federal level.  The accused still has the constitutional right to face his/her accuser in this country.  Automated law enforcement takes away that right and is therefore unconstitutional.

    • 0 avatar

      Automated law-enforcement is WRONG.  We pay police officers to use their training and judgment when enforcing the law.  Automated enforcement takes away the discretion of the officer and the “accuser”.
      I won’t shed a tear for that.  Having been at the business end of a police officer’s “discretion” (read: he was lying in court) I’ll take a camera every day of the week.  Not only can I test, verify and audit a camera, I don’t have to pay it wages and/or overtime to do the same job.

    • 0 avatar

      NJ tested and then ditched camera speeding ticket enforcement since there are so many politicians, law enforcement officers, and relatives/friends of same who would automatically get tickets.  The camera doesn’t accept a PBA card  or legislator license tag as an excuse while a live patrolman will…
      I also dislike this type of enforcement since the private company profiting from it is not beholden to the law enforcement agency or government and by default- the local population. RE: the shortening of yellow light cycles when red light cameras were (are?) installed.

  • avatar

    There’s only one answer. Conduct an Airstrike on Redflex and ATS HQ.

  • avatar

    RedFlex is a despicable company.  How unsettling is it that foreign corporation basically has the power to “tax” motorists and make a profit?
    RedFlex cuts deals with local governments, sets up the cameras, and gives the city it’s cut.
    It’s a slippery slope.

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Locock

      I’ll ignore your silly xenophobia and just wonder why you voted for the government in question? What are YOU going to do about it? Incidentally redflex shares are up 66% from their recent lows (closed at 2.54, recently were down at 1.55 in June). Also you need to add in the appreciating Australian dollar.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Ol Shel: What does it gain anyone for this to be classified as a motorcycle? There must be a reason why it...
  • 28-Cars-Later: @Freed I understood what you meant, what I was saying in reply was I have worked with 500 bed single...
  • Lou_BC: Have you asked JD Power for a sample survey?
  • jkross22: Lou, Yet another example of how Canada somehow has avoided the pitfalls of Americans digging in and...
  • Greg Hamilton: Lou, Here is the ultimate endgame. I don’t understand why someone would cheer it on....

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber