Chicago Tribune’s study finds no safety benefit from red light enforcement cameras

Here is a story from the Chicago Tribune detailing the results of their study into the safety benefits (if any) that have been derived from Chicago’s red light camera enforcement.  It showed that as a result of the cameras, there has been a 22% increase in rear end collisions, and a 15% decrease in T-bone crashes, essentially a wash.  It also found that the City has been overestimating the decrease in T-bone crashes as a way of justifying these cash-cow cameras.

Oklahoma Police Chief gets arrested for DUI for the third time, this time after striking a City Council member

From TulsaWorld.com:

A Colcord City Council member said Colcord’s police chief, who was arrested on a drunken driving complaint Sunday, also injured him with a patrol car while intoxicated.

Lenden Woodruff, 57, was arrested in his Colcord police car near his Colcord residence about noon Sunday, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Earlier reports incorrectly stated that the arrest occurred around midnight.

Woodruff appeared in Delaware County District Court on Monday and was arraigned on a drunken driving citation issued by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. His bail was set at $2,000.

Colcord city officials said Woodruff, who has served two stints with the community as a law enforcement officer, has not been suspended because the incident remains under investigation.

In a related matter, City Councilor Cody Gibby told the Tulsa World that he sustained injuries to his lower spine and leg and knee ligaments after Woodruff repeatedly bumped him with a patrol car while he was trying to prevent the chief from driving home while intoxicated.

“I got a (telephone) call by a convenience store clerk near Flint saying he (Woodruff) was drunk and we needed to get him off the road,” Gibby said.

When Gibby caught up with Woodruff, he said he saw the police chief holding a can of beer.

“I pulled him over and was trying to get the car keys,” Gibby said.

After a heated verbal exchange between the two men, Gibby stood in front of Woodruff’s patrol car, saying, “You are not driving a city car home while drunk.”

Gibby said Woodruff repeatedly bumped him with his patrol car, hitting the councilor’s leg.

During the exchange, Gibby said, he called the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and requested that it send an OHP trooper.

“He (Woodruff) drove about two miles to his house, and I blocked him in until troopers arrived,” Gibby said.

The arrest marks Woodruff’s third alcohol-related brush with law enforcement in Delaware County.

In 2004, he pleaded guilty to charges of DUI and carrying an open container. He was arrested for DUI again in 2008.

Colcord, with about 300 residents, is 80 miles east of Tulsa.

A Fishy Story: Wisconsin Man blames “beer-battered” fish for his 10th DUI

From the Wisconsin Rapids Record:

A 75-year-old Friendship man facing a 10th offense drunken driving charge told a deputy he smelled like alcohol because he had just eaten beer-battered fish…

According to the criminal complaint, at 2:27 p.m. Oct. 12, an Adams County deputy saw a vehicle make a U-turn on Highway 13 in Dell Prairie. The deputy followed the vehicle and saw that it had a broken tail lamp. The deputy checked the license plate and learned [John H.] Przybyla owned the vehicle, and he had a revoked driver’s license.

As Przybyla went around a curve in the highway, the deputy saw Przybyla’s vehicle go over the centerline, according to the complaint. He stopped the vehicle.

The deputy asked Przybyla to put out the cigarette Przybyla was smoking. The deputy then noticed an odor of intoxicants coming from Przybyla’s breath, according to the complaint.

When the deputy asked Przybyla how much he had been drinking, Przybyla replied he had not been drinking. Przybyla said he had been at a fish fry on Highway 82 and had eaten beer-battered fish, according to the complaint.

The deputy arrested Przybyla and took him to Moundview Memorial Hospital in Adams. Przybyla refused to take a blood test, stating it was against his religion, according to the complaint. The deputy contacted a court commissioner, who granted a warrant.

Przybyla fought the blood test, and deputies had to restrain Przybyla for hospital staff members to get the blood. The results weren’t available Tuesday, but a preliminary breath test done by the deputy showed a 0.062 blood-alcohol concentration. For Wisconsin residents with three or more drunken driving convictions, the legal limit is 0.02 percent.

A Smart Tweak to DUI Victim Impact Panels to Reach Younger Offenders

Illinois DUI offenders are required to attend a Victim Impact Panel (VIP) as part of their sentence.  At a VIP, offenders sit in an audience and listen as victims of drunk driving accidents, family members, or convicted drunk drivers talk about the damage that can happen on the ride home from a night of drinking.

In a pay-walled story on the Chicago Tribune’s site, Barbara Brotman, writes about how these Victim Impact Panels are getting a smart tweak, in order to reach younger DUI offenders.

From the Tribune:

Other [Victim Impact] panels offered by [the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists], which holds 140 of them a year in the Chicago area and collar counties, address offenders of all ages. But Rita Kreslin, executive director of the alliance, worried that they were missing their mark with the younger crowd.

Kreslin, whose son John was killed in a crash at age 19, took note of young people she saw when she spoke at victim impact panels.

“I’d see those kids file out that didn’t look old enough to have a driver’s license (and) they’re thinking, ‘Well, that doesn’t apply to me; the guy next to me was an old man,'” she said.

She wanted to create panels that would clearly apply to young people, some of whom also face charges of underage drinking or reckless conduct, at a pivotal point in their lives.

“I’m not going to teach some 40-year-old how to make better choices,” Kreslin said. “But the kids, it’s more of a restorative program.”

She proposed having panels specifically for young people to officials of the DuPage County court system over the summer, and the chief judge approved her plan.

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin is a supporter.

“I think someone who is under the age of 24 looks at life a lot differently than someone who is in their 40s or 50s,” he said.

A number of chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving across the nation already hold victim impact panels for young people.

And the national organization last January rolled out a program for teenage offenders called Start Making a Right Turn, or SMART, that incorporates a victim impact panel, information on the developing teenage brain and strategies for not drinking until the legal age of 21.

MADD Illinois hopes to start offering the SMART program in Berwyn after Jan. 1, said state Executive Director Sam Canzoneri.

The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists victim impact panels for youths currently are offered only in DuPage County, though Kreslin is working to expand it and said officials in other counties have expressed interest. Last month’s panel at Benedictine University was only AAIM’s second geared for young people.

Texas, Florida Judges in the news for their own DUI arrests

Here are two stories that I saw over the weekend about two out of state Judges who were arrested for DUI.  By the way, for anyone wondering whether or not you should agree to take a breath test when arrested for a DUI, please take note that both of these judges refused.

Questions are being asked about the dismissal of Texas Judge Nora Longoria’s DUI case.  According to reports, prosecutors thought the case was too weak to prosecute, so they dropped it.  They made this decision before they had obtained the officer’s dash cam video, which I am embedding above.  Why did prosecutors rush to drop this case until they had all the evidence?  Didn’t the arrest reports indicate that the Judge was wobbling and unable to walk straight?  I wish all my clients were treated so generously.

Meanwhile, Florida Judge Cynthia Imperato is scheduled to have her DUI trial next week, beginning December 16th.  I have embedded her arrest video above.

Last week, a judge denied her motion to keep her position as a judge out of evidence from the jury, despite her attorney’s concern that “many citizens hold judges and attorneys to a higher standard, viewing them as officers of the court, expecting that they should not disobey the law.”  Personally, I agree with her attorney, and I don’t believe that the probative value of her position as a judge is outweighed by the prejudice that she may face if held to a higher standard than anyone else.

Chicago Police to begin test trial of body cameras in two months

The Chicago Police Department will begin a test trial of body cameras on police officers in two months, according to the Chicago Tribune.

This is encouraging news, considering that it is fairly common to have competing claims about the need to use excessive police force, including but not limited to police discharges of firearms.  While a body camera is not perfect, it preserves an objective document of what happened.  It has been shown that video recordings reduce both complaints and the use of force.

From an earlier blog post: “a 12-month study by Cambridge University researchers revealed that when the city of Rialto, California, required its cops to wear cameras, the number of complaints filed against officers fell by 88 percent and the use of force by officers dropped by almost 60 percent. Watched cops are polite cops.”

Update:  Today the White House announced that it would provide $263 million for police departments to obtain 50,000 body cameras and training.  I certainly think that this is a better use of federal money than providing small town police departments with tanks.