Editorial: Hiding a good decision

March 7, 2014 

It’s a rare moment when a local government makes a good decision, but then decides not to tell anyone about it.

That’s what happened in Knightdale recently, though.

The town had been in public conversations about extending their contract with Redflex, the company that operated the red light cameras at several intersections along Knightdale Boulevard. Those negotiations apparently hit an impasse and the town opted not to renew the contract.

That’s a good thing in our opinion. In abandoning the red light cameras, Knightdale follows the lead of several cities across North Carolina and the nation in halting their use. The basic tenant of our judicial system allows the accused to confront their accuser. In cases brought forward by a camera, that just isn’t realistic. Those who had a legitimate gripe with tickets they were issued had an uphill battle convincing a town committee that they were innocent of the charges leveled against them.

Eliminating the cameras ensures that future tickets will be written after an officer observes or investigates the alleged violation and determines that the driver has done something wrong. It may be a minor point, but it also ensures that the driver who commits the alleged violation is the one who is ticketed and not simply the owner of the vehicle.

What’s astonishing in all this is not that the town made the decision it did, but that it tried to pull one over on the people who travel through the town.

While we recognize the deterrent nature of the cameras and the value that has for police who can’t be everywhere at once, we are disappointed that the town would work to carry out such a deceit. That works against the proposition of an open and honest government. Knightdale has a lot going for it and this act of omission serves no good purpose in the long run. If the town wants to continue to see improved obedience to the traffic laws, it can simply direct its officers to beef up patrols along that corridor from time to time and make it a priority during those times to ensure that violators are ticketed. Those kinds of actions will, we are certain, create a general knowledge among motorists that the traffic lights are to be obeyed and that those who scoff at the law will pay the price. In the end, that can be as effective a deterrent as any camera sitting on a pole.

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