Traffic camera panel now moving forward

R-BeaufortNovember 7, 2011 

Your editorial on Nov. 3 properly noted the need for a commission to convene, as provided by law, to examine the legal, ethical and other policy implications associated with using traffic cameras in connection with law enforcement. Gov. Nikki Haley recently appointed a chairman for this commission, and it will meet over the next two months and then issue its findings to the legislature when it reconvenes next January.

Neither the chairman nor the other commission members are being compensated for their service; no mileage, no per diem, nothing. Their expertise is being provided as a public service. As far as "staffing" the commission goes, none was provided for in the law, and it isn't needed. The commission comprises legislative committee chairs, cabinet directors and competent professionals and experts from law enforcement and the South Carolina Bar. They can do the job without staff assistance.

I voted last session to ban the use of traffic cameras because I don't think a private company, paid on a tickets-issued basis, should be involved in law enforcement. I also question whether equal protection and due process of law can be afforded in a context where tickets are mailed to alleged violators weeks after an incident occurs. The commission has been charged with looking into this, and I look forward to seeing whether it finds my concerns warranted.

Your editorial chastises me for not being critical of Gov. Haley's failure to timely appoint a chairman so that the commission could have met and issued its findings by the Nov. 1 deadline. I wasn't critical because, having served as a governor's chief of staff, I realize her job is like drinking from a fire hose, and something like appointing a study committee chairman can easily be overlooked. When the need to appoint a chairman was called to her attention, she promptly did so.

No harm, no foul; let's move forward.

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