Feathered Bastard

Sheriff Paul Babeu Ends Pinal County's Contract with Redflex

There's a new sheriff in Pinal County, and he's ridin' Redflex out on a hot rail...

CameraFraud.com's reporting that Pinal County's newly elected Sheriff Paul Babeu has ended Pinal's photo enforcement contract with Redflex, the Australian firm responsible for so many of those mechanical Orwellian shutterbugs plaguing motorists throughout the state.

Before CameraFraud.com posted the YouTube video above, I called the Pinal County Sheriff's Office to confirm the initial report and spoke to public information officer Vanessa White. According to White, the Redflex contract with Pinal involved just three vans, and no stationary cameras. The contract was set to expire December 31 at midnight. She said the decision not to renew the contract was the new sheriff's.

Shortly after being sworn in, Babeu told CameraFraud.com that he was against photo enforcement because he was a "strict Constitutionalist," and that its purpose was to "create money for the government." He expressed the opinion that, "It's corrupting law enforcement for us to be partnered with a private entity that creates revenue."

Geez, keep talking like that Sheriff, and people'll want you to run for Governor!

Babeu did say he supported redlight cameras because there was a safety issue involved, but on the issue of the speed cameras, he was unbending.

"I've never seen a photo radar camera arrest a drunk driver," Babeu said to CameraFraud.com. "Or arrest a person with a warrant, see if someone has insurance, or to just simply give directions to somebody.

"So I'm against it, we have ended photo radar for speeding. Photo radar's last days are now behind us, because they ended on the 1st of January."

Babeu also expressed his hope that incoming Governor Jan Brewer would see the light on photo enforcement, and he praised citizens groups such as CameraFraud.com for pushing the issue.

Over at the Arizona Department of Public Safety, spokesman Lt. James Warriner said the new sheriff's action changes nothing for AZ DPS, which also contracts with Redflex, and that, "We will still be operating our cameras on state and federal highways as mandated by the Governor and State Legislators." However, he conceded that DPS has no stationary cameras in Pinal County, and that currently DPS only utilizes mobile technology there. 

Redflex flack Shoba Vaitheeswaran could not be reached for comment. I would have loved hearing her spin on losing this contract, and what this might mean for her employer, as more politicians realize how hated these camera are and begin to stand up to the Redflex giant.

Kudos to Babeu for doing the right thing, and to CameraFraud.com for scoring this news first. CameraFraud.com's motto is "the cameras are coming down." And at least in Pinal County, they certainly are, thanks to a new sheriff in town.

PS: Note to Marcy below. All comments are welcome. I don't know the comment with the link you're referring to, but it does look like Babeu got a traffic ticket in '08 according to the AZ Supreme Court Web site, unless there's another Paul Babeu out there. Feel free to repost your comment with the link. I don't think the fact Babeu got a ticket invalidates what he's done. Far from it. It just means he's gotten a traffic ticket like most of humanity.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons