Red light cameras likely coming back to Colorado Springs

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Colorado Springs is considering installing red light cameras, but before taking the plunge, they want feedback from drivers.

Springs police and the city council held a meeting Wednesday night about installing cameras at different intersections across the city. They sought input from citizens to see if this is something they support.

The red light system would be used at intersections that have been identified as locations with a lot of crashes due to people failing to stop at red lights.

"It allows us to focus down on intersections that have the most serious crash potential based on history and being able to set up cameras, making the public aware and just getting folks to slow down and pay attention," Springs police spokesperson Lt. Howard Black said of the proposal.

If approved, the city would start out with cameras at four intersections around Spring of 2018 and hope to expand that to 10 if the program is successful.

Police say the purpose of these cameras is to make intersections safer and reduce the severity of intersection-related accidents. Black told 11 News reporter Kyla Galer crashes are getting worse, particularly deadly ones.

"Our fatalities are increasing this year," he said. "We potentially are on track to break a record of traffic fatalities."

11 News has told you before about an officer shortage which is another reason officials want to implement red light cameras. Police tell Galer being short-staffed prevents them from being as diligent when it comes to traffic violations and that these cameras are a way to help with those problems.

"When your patrol officers are constantly going from priority one calls for service to priority one calls for service, it doesn't allow that officer-initiated activity to be as significant as we would like to see in the city," Black explained.

Red light cameras aren't a new concept in Colorado Springs -- the city had four at one time but took them down in 2011. The interim police chief at the time, Pete Carey, cited staffing issues and ineffectiveness for ending the program.

Six years later, with the possibility of not using his officers to look through the photos and videos, the now-chief of police has changed his tune.

"It is a good fit for this community. I think we have to carefully and thoughtfully go forward with this," Carey said at the community meeting.

Galer spoke with a city councilmember prior to the meeting, who explained why he supports reimplementing them.

"This is strictly a very much a safety issue. If we can have people be conscious and not run these red lights, it's going to make the intersections not only safer for automobiles but pedestrians as well," Marv Bennett said.

11 News ran a 24-hour poll on Facebook Wednesday. Responders were divided, but at the conclusion of the poll Thursday morning the noes had it, with 59 percent voting against red light cameras. More than 4,400 people voted in the poll.

One concern many cited was getting a ticket for just inching over the white line, but the city says they will only issue tickets for people who outright run a red light.

"We will be taking a look at violations, if we move forward with this program, where cars have totally entered the intersection," Black said.

"I've heard stories about another city in Colorado who when people get just a couple of feet across the white line they get a ticket -- that's not going to happen here," Bennett told Galer.

The meeting was held from 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Police Operation Center community room. That's located at 705 S. Nevada Ave.