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SW Public Policy Institute files lawsuit against Albuquerque over speed cameras

Southwest Public Policy Institute initiated a lawsuit against the city of Albuquerque after it failed to release data from speed cameras. (File photo)
Think tank wants access to data from cameras

A think tank is unhappy with Albuquerque because of its traffic light cameras.

The Southwest Public Policy Institute initiated a lawsuit against the city of Albuquerque and City Clerk Ethan Watson this week. The think tank alleges the city has violated the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act with data collection connected to the city’s Automated Speed Enforcement program.

The Southwest Public Policy Institute filed the lawsuit in the Second Judicial District of Bernalillo County. It filed the suit after a public records request made in January.

The organization wanted the disclosure of the citation database related to the City’s “Automated Speed Enforcement” program. A third-party company, NovoaGlobal, maintains the database. The city failed to comply with SPPI's public records request, the think tank said in its release.

“We are concerned that the City of Albuquerque’s speed camera placement and policies could be disproportionately impacting minorities and low-income drivers,” said Patrick M. Brenner, president of the Southwest Public Policy Institute. “We believe that the City’s Automated Speed Enforcement’ program could be leveraging public data in the face of substantive profiling concerns, which is reinforced by City Clerk Ethan Watson’s intentional, repeated, and wrongful denial of multiple requests to inspect the citation database.”

Jordon George of the Aragon Moss George Jenkins law firm, SPPI's counsel in the case, argues the city wrongfully denied the records request. SPPI argues the denial violates the state’s public records law.

“New Mexico’s public records laws are clear,” Brenner said. “Public records, no matter where they are held, must be accessible to citizens. This lawsuit emphasizes our commitment to upholding the public’s right to access information about government actions. In this case, there has been a delay of over seven months without any documents being made available for inspection. While increasingly commonplace, delays like these are antithetical to the principles of open and transparent government.”

SPPI is seeking an order for the defendants to provide the requested records, plus statutory and actual damages, costs, and attorney’s fees related to the case.

“The Southwest Public Policy Institute remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring transparency and accountability in government operations,” SPPI wrote in the release. “This lawsuit underlines the need for openness, reinforcing the right of citizens to access information and ensuring that public bodies uphold their legal responsibilities.”