I got an unfortunate piece of mail the other day. It was from the Denver photo traffic law enforcement division … or something like that. In the envelope was a citation for running a red light. The ticket surprised me, since I didn't remember running, or even almost running, a red light recently.
I checked the date of the infraction against my calendar, realizing that I ran this red light on the day when I pretty sick. In fact, at the time I committed the offense which warranted receiving a ticket, I was on my way to try to find an urgent care clinic.
So, my in-the-mail ticket had photos of me committing the infraction. It looked, from the photos, like I had stopped at a red light, and then executed a (perfectly legal) right turn on red. The letter pointed me to a web site where there would be more photos ~ so I checked. Still, all the photos seemed to indicate that I had stopped, checked traffic, and then turned. The website had a link to video ~ so I checked. Sure enough, the video indicated that I had approached the red light about 15 seconds after it turned red. The video indicated that I had not quite come to a full and complete stop. I had virtually stopped, and certainly I had stopped enough to see that my right turn on red was entirely safe. But yes, technically, I broke the law.
But here's the thing. I'm pretty sure that, if there was a police officer sitting at the light, s/he probably wouldn't have pulled me over. And if they did, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have given me a ticket. Perhaps, based on the actual driving, I would have received a warning, since my driving was not a danger to me or anyone else. Further, on that particular day I was obviously sick. In fact, the reason I was even driving around at that particular moment was to look for an urgent care clinic. I was dreadfully sick, and if I had been stopped by a police officer, I would have asked that person where to find the clinic.
I don't know if this is true, but I've heard that the budget for the Denver police force cut pretty severely. I wonder if the Denver police department is watching traffic cameras more closely. I'm sure it costs less and creates a healthier bottom line to have an officer watching cameras than it does to have that officer on the street. But it's easier to pay for one officer in a room than an officer in a car. However, that officer in front of a television monitor is much less effective at deterring crime than an officer on the street.
The thing is, I believe that the police force (and many other governmental agencies) doesn't have enough money because we as a population are reluctant to pay taxes. What we seem to forget is that the taxes we pay isn't money that simply evaporates from our personal bank accounts ~ our taxes fund our civilization. I wonder if there's a direct correlation ~ is it true that the less taxes we're willing to pay, the less civilized we become as a society?
Maybe so, maybe not ~ but I do believe that if we paid more in taxes, I would have been less likely to receive a traffic ticket. Plus, then we would have more police officers working on the street on crime that actually endangers other people.