Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2020

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Key takeaways...

  • Traffic cameras are surrounded by controversy in our country
  • The cameras on our roads both save lives and make money
  • Many Americans don’t trust the motives behind traffic cameras
  • Corruption closely follows the companies running our cameras
  • Theft, bribery, and buyouts are common among these companies

The Controversy

There is a looming cloud of corruption over the companies running our nation’s cameras. The faults that have followed the biggest, most successful traffic camera companies make it (nearly) impossible to support them or trust their motives.

Saving Lives

The IIHS found that the U.S. cities with populations over 200,000 that had cameras from ‘04-‘08 had 35 percent fewer fatal red light running crashes compared to when they didn’t have cameras from ‘92-‘96.

Looking at the average number of deaths in these crashes, the IIHS estimates that about 815 lives would have been saved if the other major cities had also been using auto-enforcers.

 Making Money

Red light cameras in Chicago made over $8 million from automated tickets generated in just six months.

This steady flow of money can quickly dictate the decisions behind how the cameras are installed and used.

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The Conundrum

The more effective a camera becomes at enforcing the traffic laws, the less money it generates.

The temptation then arises to decrease the length of the yellow light, move or remove warning signs, increase speed limits, etc.

These tricky tactics might make the cameras more lucrative, but they also make the roads more dangerous.

The Corruption

Unfortunately, the studies proving traffic cameras save lives are overshadowed by the detestable reputations the most successful camera companies have created for themselves.

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Top 10 Cases of Corrupt Traffic Camera Companies


Abbreviated below:

#10 – Attracting Corruption

There are a shocking number of cases of illegal activity involving our nation’s top traffic camera companies.

Salesman Steals

Jay Morris Specter stole over $1.2 million dollars by writing and cashing forged checks.

He was convicted after working for ATS and while being an employee of Redflex, but both companies denied knowing about their employee’s fraudulent behavior.

 VP Manipulates

ATS Vice President, Bill Kroske manipulated the election and voting process in both California and Washington. He worked with the mayor to block ballots to ban red light and speed cameras, and he posed as a local citizen to support traffic cameras online.

When Kroske was found guilty of this illegal behavior, ATS “suspended” him indefinitely.

 Mayor Bribes

St. Peter’s, Missouri mayor — Shawn Brown — told Redflex he would veto their contract if they didn’t pay him just under $3,000.

Redflex notified the FBI, then cut the mayor the check he demanded. As soon as Brown cashed his payment, he was arrested and served a year-and-a-half in jail.

 Cops Steal

Police officers in New Orleans and Washington, D.C. were caught stealing income from lucrative traffic cameras.

Karin Coppens stole over $175,000 through falsely logged overtime hours to review camera citations. And the NOPD District Commander, Edwin Hosli, overcharged in excess of $9,000 under the same guise of pay for reviewing citations.

ACS, ATS, and Redflex were not found guilty in any of the above cases. But, it’s very suspicious when such a large number of individuals are lying, stealing, and cheating while working for and with these notorious traffic camera companies.

#9 – Calculating Violations


Although not entirely illegal, it outrages American citizens that camera companies have special formulas to determine how much money they can make off of their mistakes.

In Virginia, Redflex used their “Violation Calculator” that factors yellow and green duration, traffic volume, speed limits, signal visibility, and the percentage of heavy vehicles to show officials how lucrative their cameras would be.

#8 – Paying for Testimony

Tennessee Police Chief David Beams testified in a trial to keep Redflex from paying millions in damages.

In return, Redflex gave him an all-expense paid vacation to Phoenix that included chauffeured rides, three nights in the Ritz-Carlton, and prime rib dinners.

These perks were all in addition to his regular salary being paid by Oak Ridge tax dollars because his trip was considered “official business.”

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#7 – Falsifying Documents

Cheryl Krough, the notary public employed by Redflex, was found guilty of breaking four laws to falsely certify automated camera citations in Louisiana.

Krough abused her privileges as a notary to validate forms without proper witnesses or in-person signatures.

She lost her notary license, so Redflex had to start doing things the legal way . . . or find another patsy.

#6 – Bribing Police


ACS was found guilty of bribing Detective Thomas Bell and Sergeant Kerry Nisbet of Edmonton, Canada over a six-year period to secure themselves a 20-year no-bid photo ticketing contract worth $90 million.

The payoff included a luxury trip to Vegas, the use of a Harley motorcycle, prime seats to Oilers hockey games, and flights to the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball games. Bell and Nisbet were charged with breach of trust and accepting secret commissions.

#5 – Breaking Labor Laws

In 2011, several employees sued ATS because they were being paid less than the law and union specifies (over $75,000 in many cases), having their earned overtime pay withheld from them, and being denied meal and rest breaks.

In 2013, Redflex was fined just under $25,000 for underpaying employees in San Rafael, CA.

The following year, Redflex was found guilty of firing Americans to hire cheaper Australian employees.

And later in 2014, it was proven that Redflex illegally fired a man due to a disability he obtained on the job.

#4 – Fixing the Results

ATS and Redflex have both been found guilty of shortening yellow light times to increase red light citations in Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey.

In Texas, ATS was caught threatening motorists of license suspension for not paying citation fines on time, while never having such authority.

In New Jersey and New York, ATS had “malfunctioning” cameras that sent out over $12.5 million in both false and late citations.

#3 – Stealing via Stocks


In November of 2006, the CEO Mark King and CFO Warren Edwards of ACS stepped down after admitting to stealing $51 million through stock options fraud.

An investigation found that King and Edwards intentionally misdated documents to increase the compensation for those in management positions.

They used hindsight to select favorable dates for employee stock options as taught by ACS founder Darwin Deason.

#2 – Paying for Favor

Redflex hired a powerful lobbyist, John Raphael, to bribe the most prominent city officials in Columbus and Cincinnati into using their auto-enforcers.

To keep the traffic camera company’s name out of the paper trail, Raphael submitted over $70,000 in payoff campaign contributions through false invoices as he was instructed to do so by Redflex.

Raphael served 15 months in federal prison, one year of probation, and paid a $5,000 fine.

#1 – Bribing for Contract


Redflex’s CEO, Karen Finley, was the mastermind behind the infamous $2 million bribery scheme to secure a red light camera contract in Chicago. Finley hired Martin O’Malley to bribe his friend and city transportation official John Bills.

Eight years of premeditated bribery awarded Redflex the largest contract in the U.S. — accruing over $500 million in red light tickets alone.

Once the scandal came to light, three of Redflex’s top executives were fired, Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel canceled his contract with Redflex, and all involved served jail time.

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The Conclusion

The aforementioned cases of corruption are only ten of the worst publicly documented cases involving our country’s most successful traffic camera companies. Sadly, it doesn’t end with our top 10.

This widespread corruption begs the following questions:

  • Do corporations that break laws while governing their business have the authority to enforce laws on our roadways?
  • Do those that abuse the U.S. dollar to acquire success have the right to use that same U.S. dollar to punish motorists?

There are many communities, however, that legally use traffic cameras. But unfortunately, the negative publicity gets more attention.

Thus, many individuals have a negative attitude toward the cameras that stare down at them.

You should feel good, however, about finding the right car insurance for you. Comparison shop here.


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