Shortly after Houstonians found out their red light camera program is back, word got out that a local police officer and vocal advocate for the program was also on the payroll for the company that operates them.
In an attempt to defeat a potential state-wide red light camera ban this legislative session, Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions (ATS) hired several lobbyists, including Houston police officer Mark Clark. ATS just so happens to also be the company that operates Houston’s red light cameras.
Clark reportedly made at least $10,000 for his lobbying efforts for ATS but never disclosed that information to the public, all while loudly advocating to get the camera’s back on.
Police officers are truly servants of their communities, going “in the field” putting their lives at risk in order to protect ours. Naturally, they are the first people we turn to when looking for opinions on how to improve our public safely. So when Officer Clark spoke out on behalf of red light cameras, he presumably did so under the guise of being a non-biased source, instead of identifying himself as a registered and paid lobbyist.
Failing to disclose that information was an abuse of the community’s trust, with no way of measuring how public opinion was swayed by his testimony. Officer Clark may have had good intentions and honestly thought his relationship was benign, but it should left to the public to decide if, and how, potential conflicts-of-interest influence our public employees.