Attorney General responds to photo radar opinion

The Arizona Attorney General is reacting to changes made by several valley cities to their photo enforcement programs.

Some cities like Phoenix and Scottsdale are turning off their cameras and ending the citations, at least for now following an opinion by the Attorney General last week.

Last week the AG gave his opinion that third party camera companies are operating illegally since the employees aren't licensed private investigators. This development is just one of many in the ongoing debate on the use of red light traffic cameras around the nation.

"Removing that human element just at a core level, a lot of folks here in Arizona, there's just something about it that's never sat right," said Mark Brnovich.

It was last week that he wrote it was illegal for third parties to issue citations via photo radar.

"We were asked by one of the legislators to interpret the Arizona photo radar statute, and we basically concluded after looking at the legislation, after looking at the history that private third party companies that are operating photo radar must be licensed as private investigators under our state law and they aren't right now," said Brnovich.

Under the law anyone other than a police officer who gathers evidence for use in a court trial must be a licensed investigator.

"What we've seen historically is that they weren't licensed private investigators, and clearly I think the statute requires them to do so," he said.

Since Brnovich issued his opinion, Paradise Valley ended it's relationship with Redflex, the company operating the cameras, and the city will now handle citations on their own cameras internally.

The Phoenix Police Department says it's also suspended its contract with Redflex; the department says the city is not sure when the cameras will be shut off, but from now on no citations will be issued.

Scottsdale Police also followed suit saying the city will not be issuing citations until they evaluate the opinion.

"I'm not anti-technology, but there's something about when it comes to enforcing the law, that's a core government function, the government should be doing that, and my goodness, I don't think we should be relying on machines to tell us whether someone broke the law or not," said Brnovich.

Brnovich says moving forward what would need to happen is third-party photo enforcement contractors would have to become licensed private investigators. The law could be changed. Or the cities could make accommodations where they wouldn't rely on the companies, but instead, use their own law enforcement personnel.