A Houston Police Department official asked the authors of a study of red-light cameras installed in Houston to alter certain aspects of the study in order to affect its outcome, according to documents in an open records lawsuit. The controversial city-commissioned study showed traffic accidents doubled at the 50 intersections monitored by 70 cameras in the first year after they were put in.
According to an e-mail included in the lawsuit, an HPD official asked Bob Stein, a Rice University political science professor and one of the report’s authors, in April to rule out accidents if they
occurred more than 100 feet from the intersection. Randall Kallinen, a lawyer who represents ticketed drivers in court, also said that documents he obtained indicated the department attempted to rule out crashes that did not involve a red-light violation.
Either of those steps would be more likely to lead to results showing the cameras reduced crashes, Kallinen said. HPD’s request was refused by the study’s authors. Attorneys fighting to end Houston’s 2-year-old red-light camera program seized on the documents — released after an open records lawsuit they filed against the city — as evidence the study was tainted by a purposefully skewed methodology.