Brooklyn Senator Marty Golden Lobbies Against Life-Saving Speed Cameras

State Senator Marty Golden and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association are working to keep life-saving speed enforcement cameras out of NYC.

State Senator Marty Golden has a history of advocating for street safety, but opposes speed enforcement cameras, which are known to reduce crashes.

A demonstration program with a handful of cameras was included in the State Assembly budget, and has the support of Mayor Bloomberg, the City Council and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. City leaders and street safety advocates have worked years to get the program this far, but Golden — a former cop — and the police union are lobbying Albany lawmakers to kill it.

“Speed cameras are no substitute for live policing,” said PBA President Patrick Lynch, to the Daily News.

He said the cameras would allow drivers who are drunk, carrying weapons and fleeing crimes to “slip by.”

Said Golden: “What we need are the actual police officers on the street. Cops on the street are what slows people down.”

But according to Kelly, streets will be safer with speed cameras. “Motorists know that there will never be a sufficient number of police officers to catch everyone who violates the traffic laws,” said Kelly, in a recent letter to Governor Cuomo, “but the presence of speed cameras can create a strong deterrent effect, serving to reduce speeding and the collision and physical injury that it causes.”

NYPD traffic enforcement is on the decline. Officers issued as few as 19,119 summonses for speeding on neighborhood streets in 2012, and the overall number of traffic citations was down 20 percent from 2008.

In four precincts encompassed by Golden’s south Brooklyn district — the 61st, 62nd, 63rd, and 68th — officers wrote a total of 507 speeding tickets last year, according to NYPD. That’s less than two motorists caught speeding per day in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and parts of Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, and Marine Park combined. With 39 percent of motorists speeding on city streets, that equates to practically zero enforcement.

Speeding was cited as a factor in 55 of 250 fatal NYC crashes last year, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Crash data compiled by Streetsblog show that since January 2012 at least five pedestrians have been killed by motorists in the precincts in Golden’s district. One of the victims was a child, and two were seniors. Another victim, Chenugor Dao, died when two drivers collided in Gravesend, sending one vehicle onto the sidewalk, where Dao was standing with family members.

Traffic cameras are highly effective at reducing speeding, red light-running, and crashes. They pay for themselves. Unlike police officers, they don’t care who the speeding motorist is. Most important, they don’t get reassigned to other enforcement tasks.

There is no guarantee that more police would bring more traffic enforcement. Case in point: Current NYPD enforcement priorities rank tinted windows above speeding.

Ideally, drivers would obey the law to the extent that cops on the street would be enough. But that’s not reality — and Golden, at least, knows it. Otherwise, rather than try to toughen penalties for hit-and-run, he would just push for more cops, on the premise that all hit-and-runs could be prevented by increasing police presence.

This is not a choice between cops and cameras. It’s a choice between offering city pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicle occupants a measure of protection from speeding drivers, or allowing deadly behavior behind the wheel to go virtually unchecked.

  • Ian Turner

    Does the PBA dislike speed cameras because of worries they will put officers out of a job? Or is it because speed cameras do not grant professional courtesy?

  • Pedestrian

    “He said the cameras would allow drivers who are drunk, carrying weapons and fleeing crimes to ‘slip by.'”

    So because no camera can stop all kinds of lawlessness there should be no cameras? By that reasoning, since body scanners can’t stop ninjas from boarding planes we should do away with body scanners. And since cops themselves can’t stop all kinds of crimes, we should get rid of cops! Where does the logic — or lack thereof — end?

  • Bolwerk

    Most probably the latter. The police and the political class are on the same page on that one; accountability is for the Other, not for us!

  • “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”

  • JamesR

    ‘Said Golden: “What we need are the actual police officers on the street. Cops on the street are what slows people down.”’

    Okay, fine, then DO this. Why are they arguing against implementing a device that will do something (speeding enforcement) that the live cops aren’t even currently doing? What am I missing?

  • Anonymous

    I read that first line quick and thought it said “State Senator Marty Golden and the Petroleum Benefits Association are working to keep life-saving speed enforcement cameras out of NYC.” I guess I have a bias…

  • Anonymous

    I reacted to that same quote, in a different way: “Well then Me. Senator, why the f*ck aren’t the cops out there enforcing the speed laws, and catching those drunken gun runners!”

  • Anonymous

    That’s a really interesting point. Compare tickets given by police officers vs. speed/red light cameras. Would the race, gender, ethnicity and economic class (judged by the make and model car) be the same?

    I guess this pre-supposes that police officers in NYC actually give out speeding tickets at all, which doesn’t seem to be the case.

  • Eric McClure

    City Council member Dan Halloran said during the Transportation Committee hearing today that cops, who can “exercise discretion,” should be enforcing speed limits, not cameras. What “discretion” should there be in cases in which people are driving 33.33% above the speed limit?

  • Joe R.

    It’s a pity none of that discretion has been used when dealing with bikes.

  • Andrew

    Wherever speed enforcement is handled automatically, NYPD resources don’t need to be spent on speed enforcement – they can instead be spent on other priorities that can’t be handled automatically, such as (if Lynch were in charge) catching drivers who are drunk, carrying weapons and fleeing crimes, or (if I were in charge) catching drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians.

    Of course, in practice, the NYPD currently spends negligible resources on speed enforcement. So this isn’t a matter of where NYPD resources are spent; it’s a matter of whether speed enforcement takes place at all.

    And some drivers – especially, as @7c177865bd107a919938355fe93de93a:disqus points out, those who are currently exempt from enforcement – would prefer negligible enforcement. How often is Marty Golden a pedestrian or bicyclist, and how does that compare to the rate among his constituents?

  • Hjvb

    I watched four Bay Ridge policeman ignore a speeder that ran a light, coming within a foot of a girl walking her bike across the street. More police sure aren’t the solution.

  • NemesisBBF

    Get rid of the speed cameras! They’re a tax and do nothing for public safety! People are now looking at their speedometers instead of watching for other traffic and children. Marty Golden for mayor!

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