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California: Police Chief Blasts Red Light Camera Program
Gardena, California officials extended red light camera program even though it proved a failure at reducing accidents.

Ed Medrano
Nearly three out of every four Anaheim, California residents voted Tuesday to ban the use of red light cameras in the city. Twenty-five miles away in Gardena, the police chief warned the city council in February that the devices lack public support. Gardena began using automated ticketing machines five years previously. As the contract came up for renewal, city councilmen asked during a Finance Committee meeting for the police chief to report on the public perception of the camera program. Chief Edward Medrano's assessment was brutally honest and did not tend to support the notion that the program was put in place to reduce accidents.

"Our research in Gardena has revealed there is no significant traffic safety impact as a result of the use of red light cameras," Chief Medrano wrote in response. "At almost every intersection where we have cameras, collisions have remained the same, decreased very slightly, or increased depending on the intersection you examine. When combining the statistics of all the intersections, the overall consensus is that there is not a noticeable safety enhancement to the public."

In January the city issued 797 tickets worth about $350,000 or $4.3 million on an annual basis at all six monitored intersections. These proceeds are split between the city, Los Angeles County, the state and the Australian company that operates the program, Redflex Traffic Systems. In light of the disappointing safety statistics, the perception that this revenue is what motivates local politicians to keep the cameras has grown.

"In general, the consensus among our community regarding red light cameras is not favorable," Medrano wrote. "During many of the presentations about our public safety camera system, I answered many questions about the red light camera system, almost all of which were negative towards expanding the system."

Despite the chief's report, Gardena officials went ahead and renewed its photo ticketing contract with Redflex, signing a deal that will not expire until 2015, with options to extend until 2019. The city did act to remove a cost neutrality clause from the contract described as "problematic in several other cities" -- referring to the court cases which have declared such provisions illegal.

View a copy of the memo in a 170k PDF at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Redflex Public Opinion (City of Gardena, California, 2/3/2010)

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