Today: Crime and Punishment from the Red Light District


And now, the rest of the story…

On the heels of my stunning red-light cam bust for turning right onto 39th off Southwest Trafficway, I contacted Kansas City Public Works spokesman Dennis Gagnon to get the skinny on some of the pricklier aspects of the controversial program.

In the case of my particular bust – which came as a bit of a surprise to me since rather than running the light, I merely turned right without coming to a full stop- "That is one of the few intersections that have multiple directions covered," Gagnon says. "It has three directions covered – we don’t have it covered from the west."


Too bad I wasn’t leaving Missy B’s and turning right onto the Trafficway from 39th.

"My guess us you didn’t stop," Gagnon says. "Did you roll around the corner?"

As a matter of fact…

However, I was not a mere victim of Big Brother’s uncaring camera and computer, Gagnon says.

"Are you aware that the folks in Phoenix don’t issue the tickets?" Gagnon asks. "It’s looked at by a Kansas City police officer. And you do have the option to take a day out of your life and discuss it with a judge, but my guess is when they look at the 12 second video, you’d probably lose."

That’s my guess, too, having instant replayed it a few times. So I’m sending in my 100 bucks.

Enough about me, what about the stuff the folks who don’t like the cams say is wrong with ’em?

For example, can the red light cams bust you for speed too, like the Phoenix folks told me?

"They do detect your speed but we don’t use that to write tickets," Gagnon says. "But the officer can look at that and see how fast you were going through the intersection. So if it shows you were going 40 mph and still going 40 after or even 45 – like the person tried to gun it and run through it – it gives the officer an indication of what the driver was thinking."

It typically takes about six months after a red light cam goes in for scofflaws to clean up their acts.

"That’s kinda what this is all about," Gagnon says. "Changing people’s behavior."

One of the cams on Bruce Watkins Drive has reduced red-lighting running "by close to 90 percent," Gagnon says.

As for the red light cam protestors who show up monthly at 39th & SW Trafficway…

"There’s people who protest all kinds of things in society," Gagnon muses. "That’s what’s great about a democracy."

Some red light cam vigilantes claim the manufacturer shortens the yellow light time to increase the kill rate and bring in more money.

No way, Gagnon says.

"No, the yellow times haven’t been doctored, they’re using the same formula at that intersection as all the other intersections in the city," Gagnon says. "In our city the vendor cannot touch the controls for the timing of yellow lights. All of our timings for yellow are based on a traffic formula. There is a minimum and a maximum and in between there are various times. So if somebody thinks people have been had by the red light company, it’s not true. And they get paid a flat rate, so there are no incentives."

Speaking of which, are the red light cams big money makers?

"There is some revenue there but not enough to make the argument that we should be in this for the revenue, but it’s all averaged out" Gagnon says. "It varies by location but the city has made enough revenue to honor the contract (with the red light cam manufacturer). There’s one location though that never has paid for itself. At 19th and Walnut. People wised up to that one almost immediately and that location has not covered its expense."

OK, back to me…

The reason I didn’t fully stop at the light was threefold; I would have had to jam on the brakes, the coast was totally clear and it would have hurt my mileage to completely stop then start back up for no real reason…

"Well, the officer might just have ticketed you because you get good gas mileage," Gagnon cracks.

Here’s my question; what would Raskolnikov have done?

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9 Responses to Today: Crime and Punishment from the Red Light District

  1. Craig Glazer says:

    The Government is Only Helping Us
    Hearne no reason to be upset this only to help us with our daily issues. Keeping us safe from those damn light turning bastards. Thank God.

  2. Mild Mannered Jew bschloz says:

    KC Stay Cool
    “There is some revenue there but not enough to make the argument that we should be in this for the revenue, but it’s all averaged out”
    1… I’m from the Government and I’m here to help
    2… Checks in the mail
    3….I promise I won’t ****

    KCC is a blast…open dating site…Hearne opines on KC Star and Pitch…Glaze takes on Royals Chiefs and Woodside…
    I love how Glazer’s post’s invariably end with ” ANYTIME ASS-Hole– Meet me in front of Dave & Busters…you know where you can find me” Fucking West-Side Story….Rumble in The Dotte.. with penny loafers and bowling shirts.
    You just don’t get that with our MSM. Good God most of the players on this site have a fake hip and drive a Buick.

  3. DPW says:

    Try this…
    Say you were not the one driving the car, the judge will say “prove it”, and you say in response “that is the job of the prosecution”.

  4. Miss Sarah Brown says:

    Only Hearne has a law in his head re mileage
    Hearne, you are such a head case. Your sense of entitlement knows no bounds. You have now invented that the laws do not apply to you IF YOU SAY that high gas mileage trumps public safety and everyone playing by the rules.

    If anyone ever got to grade you on your drivers license exam, you’d have it taken away for arrogance.

    When you get behind the wheel, we all have agreed to play by the SAME rules and to obey those rules. Even when nobody is around. Because God is watching you and a deal is a deal. Nobody knows when a skateboarder or a kid may dart out of nowhere–and they were timing their moves based on the Rules. The social contract RULES! LOCKE AND ROUSSEAU, BABEE!

    King Hearne. Harley may always be right, but Hearne is always righteous.
    Which is why I predict that this will now be a 3 part series. You WILL have the last word, as usual.

    I kinda hope you get caught a few more times. Because the thing that really guides your moral compass is moolah.

    Hey, Chuck–
    how about one of your conversations for the future:
    Hearne collides with a child on a bike
    but defends it based on: if I had jammed on my brakes, it would have ruined my mileage score!
    Kid should notta been there, there’s no bike lane, he didn’t have on dayglo clothes, it’s the kid’s fault,
    and by the way, let the taxpayers cover that ER visit and 3 month recovery for the kid at Children’s Mercy…

  5. Hearne Christopher says:

    Speak for yourself, Buick Boy. Craig drives a Porsche and I drive a Fiat.

    Hey, I believe Gagnon. That said, clearly the guys who are in it for the money are the dudes in Phoenix. It’s a total business proposition to them. But these things do make intersections safer.

    Show you in a minute.

  6. Markus Aurelius says:

    good stuff, Hearne — informative and entertaining
    Stick to this kind of reporting Hearne — it enlightens and entertains — and drop the posts where you speculate on an issue more than you report facts. It’s all right to share an opinion — these are columns more than they are articles – but don’t let the opinion drive the story.

  7. Hearne Christopher says:

    Mind reader!

    I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s been a three parter ever since Gagnon called me back AFTER the first part was already posted. But not because I want the last word, as you will soon see. Because there is more to tell. And not about me.

  8. smartman says:

    Here Comes da Judge
    Traffic attorney’s recommend that you take your day in court, assuming you have no other moving violations in the previous 12-24 months. Most muni judges aren’t thrilled with the Big Brother intrusion of the cameras. When you appear, be respectful, say it was never your INTENT to run the light. You got caught in a moment of go/no go indecision, cite your CLEAN driving record and apologize.

    Court dockets are so clogged with these cases it may be 6-12 months before your case comes up.

    It’s a couple of hours out of your life but it beats $100.00 and any points your insurance company may ding you for.

  9. Don't think so says:

    @DPW – They ticket the car, not the driver.

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