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Red Light Cameras Hassle For Citizens and Officers Alike

While automating the process of red light tickets may sound like a cheap way to catch violators on city streets in theory, the reality of the new technology is revealing itself to cities across the country and causing headaches for law enforcement agencies more than anyone. In Houston, Texas, the red light cameras have certainly been snapping photos of daring drivers proceeding through red lights, but they, or anyone caught on red light camera, did not need worry about receiving a ticket in the mail anytime for a period of time. When the cameras were turned back on in July the Houston Police Department had not taken the steps to staff the in-house office assigned to review the raw feed, leaving the department with an empty room to review the footage. What's more, at the time a spokesman for the Houston police said they were not sure when Police Chief Charles McClelland would order the review process to reboot, according to the Houston Chronicle. "The violations are being recorded, and they're being put in a [computer] queue, but HPD is still in the process of mobilizing the manpower to actually process the violations because every one of those has to be reviewed," City Attorney David Feldman told the news source in July. Feldman added that on average, only 60 percent of the violations in the footage result in traffic tickets. Considering the technology was implemented to decrease the amount of man power needed to issue red light tickets, as well as to increase efficiency in issuing citations, having only 60 percent of the recorded violations end in a ticket seems to be the opposite of the department's intentions. The program has, however, generated more than $50 million for the city of Houston since the technology was authorized in 2006; albeit at the cost of a 39-percent jump in rear-end collisions at intersections where the cameras are found, according to data collected by The Truth About Cars. Perhaps Houston could learn from Los Angeles, which recently shut down its red light camera program after failing to collect some 65,000 unpaid tickets and costing the city $1.5 million a year, according to The Los Angeles Times. The 13-0 vote came after the realization that the Los Angeles County Superior Court had decided to not enforce offenders who simply ignored the citations mailed to them. Perhaps Councilman Paul Krekorian said it best at the July council meeting. "Let it die, enough already," he said. "Let's just be done with this and move on."
Aug 17th, 2011