Cops and Politicians Above the Law


California Confidential Records Program
I have been following this debacle for awhile now. Don’t think I have seen any posts about it here at TechIMO. Basically the program was designed to protect the personal vehicle registration information of police officers to help block violent suspects and other disgruntled people from easily tracking and harming officers.

However, the program has expanded over the years to include numerous other government professions and even relatives. Worse yet, a disturbing numbers of these people are now using their protected registration status to skip toll fares and automated red light tickets, plus many police officers are hesitant to pull over and write tickets for cars with such tags when speeding and other traffic violations are observed, as there is a chance they might be pulling over police officers – another problem as well, and perhaps a topic for another thread.

Quote:
For no good reason, thousands of cars registered to Monterey County drivers are essentially exempt from parking tickets, exempt from citations for running red lights at intersections monitored by cameras, exempt from fees for toll roads.

These local cars are among the 996,000 California vehicles registered to owners employed by or affiliated with a long list of public safety agencies or quasi-public safety agencies. The owners, therefore, are able to keep their home addresses shielded from public disclosure under the state’s Confidential Records Program.

[….]

The confidentiality program had been in place for more than a decade. It should have been amended in 1990 to enable law enforcement agencies to obtain confidential DMV address information of anyone when necessary. But as the Orange County Register reported recently, police officers, relatives of police officers, parole agents, social workers, animal-control officers, judges, city council members, legislators and others remain under a special cloak of protection that does little to shield them from kooks or stalkers but that immunizes them from inconveniences such as parking fines and highway tolls. When they drive past a toll booth without paying, a ticket is generated but the highway authority can’t figure out where to send it.

The officers and the others get to keep the secret plates when they retire. If they change jobs and are no longer eligible, they can keep the protected plates for three years.

On one Southern California toll road, 3,722 vehicles traveled toll-free in the past five years because of the misplaced confidentiality. Many of those vehicles made hundreds of free trips.

Source: Monterey Herald[/u]

Quote:
Computerized logs for the 91 Express Lanes tollway found 14,535 unpaid trips—representing about $29,500 in unpaid tolls—by motorists with confidential plates in the past five years, the Register said. Penalties for repeat offenders could have totaled more than $5 million.

In addition, the newspaper said parking citations issued to vehicles with protected plates are often dismissed because it is too much effort to obtain the drivers’ information.

Also, some police agencies routinely dismiss red-light camera citations issued to confidential plates as a courtesy or because they lack the time to find the addresses and mail citations before deadlines.

[….]

Over the years, the list of people eligible for the program was expanded to include judges, district attorneys, lawmakers, jail guards, park rangers, museum guards and others. Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, is sponsoring a bill that would expand the list further to include some zoo veterinarians, animal control agency workers and humane society shelter workers.

Source: Mercury News

Quote:
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has shielded the program from further scrutiny by refusing to provide a more specific list of plateholders under the Freedom of Information laws. It demanded the Register pay $8442 for a simple list of the number of license plates issued to each participating government agency.

Source: theNewsPaper

Quote:
“I was not amused Friday when I read about some of our employees pulling this stunt,” said Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, regarding an Orange County Social Services employee who The Register found had driven on the toll lanes 239 times for free.

[….]

Meanwhile, others expressed surprise at the scope of the protection. The Register found that since the DMV began withholding addresses of police in 1978, lawmakers have expanded the coverage to include everyone from politicians and police dispatchers to meter maids and museum guards. Their family members are shielded, too.

“What goes on at that museum must be more than I know about!” said Peter Buffa, the OCTA board’s vice chairman and public member.

Still, the state’s Assembly Transportation Committee voted on Monday to expand the protection even more, adding veterinarians, firefighters and code enforcement officers, citing job-related dangers.

Source: Orange County Register

Computerized logs for the 91 Express Lanes tollway found 14,535 unpaid trips—representing about $29,500 in unpaid tolls—by motorists with confidential plates in the past five years, the Register said. Penalties for repeat offenders could have totaled more than $5 million.

In addition, the newspaper said parking citations issued to vehicles with protected plates are often dismissed because it is too much effort to obtain the drivers’ information.

Also, some police agencies routinely dismiss red-light camera citations issued to confidential plates as a courtesy or because they lack the time to find the addresses and mail citations before deadlines.

[….]

Over the years, the list of people eligible for the program was expanded to include judges, district attorneys, lawmakers, jail guards, park rangers, museum guards and others. Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, is sponsoring a bill that would expand the list further to include some zoo veterinarians, animal control agency workers and humane society shelter workers.

Source: Mercury News

“I was not amused Friday when I read about some of our employees pulling this stunt,” said Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, regarding an Orange County Social Services employee who The Register found had driven on the toll lanes 239 times for free.

[….]

Meanwhile, others expressed surprise at the scope of the protection. The Register found that since the DMV began withholding addresses of police in 1978, lawmakers have expanded the coverage to include everyone from politicians and police dispatchers to meter maids and museum guards. Their family members are shielded, too.

“What goes on at that museum must be more than I know about!” said Peter Buffa, the OCTA board’s vice chairman and public member.

Still, the state’s Assembly Transportation Committee voted on Monday to expand the protection even more, adding veterinarians, firefighters and code enforcement officers, citing job-related dangers.

Source: Orange County Register

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