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Denver Man Crusades Against Photo Radar, Red Light Cameras

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Red light camera

Red light camera

A Denver man is trying to get cities to outlaw photo radar and red light cameras, writes John Aguilar for The Denver Post. The man, Paul Houston, 63, is also urging residents to do what they can to get the cameras turned off, Aguilar writes.

As this blog has written, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced in 2013 that its study found that red-light safety camera programs help prevent car accidents by reducing the number of vehicles that run red lights at intersections. At that time, there were about 540 U.S. communities using red light cameras, according to IIHS, this blog wrote.

Brandon Rittiman reported for 9News/KUSA last month that Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper vetoed two bills against red light camera ticketing systems this year. Hickenlooper suggested that legislators could restrict the ways revenue from the tickets can be used, and could limit the placement of the cameras, Rittiman wrote. But in a press conference, Rittiman asked Hickenlooper: “Why ask the legislature to put guardrails on it if the guardrails are kind of what already is happening?”

Hickenlooper responded to Rittiman’s question that he was not asking the legislature to add “guardrails” to the bills. “What I was saying is if you feel the need to legislate photo radar, here’s where we think you can address problems with it,” the governor said.

Paul Houston is attempting to get the Sheridan City Council to cancel its photo radar and red light camera programs, Aguilar writes. Last year, those programs brought in $775,000 of city revenue from fines, Aguilar adds. Houston, who has been waving anti-photo-radar signs on the streets for six months, says he believes the programs are unconstitutional. “It’s a violation of the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure,” he said, as Aguilar writes.

Last month, Houston introduced a camera ban ordinance for consideration by the Sheridan City Council, Aguilar writes. If the council does not act on the bill this month, Houston said, he will begin collecting signatures to get the matter on the ballot in November, Aguilar writes. Although Houston lives in Denver, he said he chose Sheridan for his campaign “because it’s small and can serve as a ‘proving ground,’” Aguilar writes.

Houston hopes to launch a similar campaign in Denver, which generated $6.5 million last year from its red light cameras. There are 10 municipalities in Colorado that have photo-radar or red light camera systems, Aguilar writes. The systems took in a total of $14.2 million for local Colorado governments in 2014, he notes.

Devin Granary, Sheridan’s city manager, said that although the less than $400,000 that Sheridan generated from the cameras is not a significant portion of the city’s $9.3 million budget, it frees up resources by allowing him to assign police officers to jobs more important than traffic control, Aguilar writes.

Aguilar writes:

He [Granbery] said residents in Sheridan mostly have been supportive of the city’s sole red-light camera and radar van, especially in school zones.

‘We haven’t had a groundswell of opposition at all,’ Granbery said.

There are currently red light cameras in about 21 states and more than 100 U.S. cities, writes Derek Major for GCN. Major quotes Patrick Howley, director of engineering at Reflex, a company that sells red light cameras, as saying: “We like to say this is a voluntary program; if you don’t run a light, you won’t get a ticket.” You can see a map of Denver-area red light cameras here:

Image by Nicholas Eckhart


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