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Ariz. boycott may cost L.A. red light cameras

June 21, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The LAPD is gearing up to ask the city council for an exemption from the city's boycott of Arizona over its controversial immigration law.At issue is the fact that the city's red light cameras are owned by an Arizona-based company.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been one of the most vocal supporters of the city's boycott of Arizona because of its immigration law. But he's willing to make an exception.

The law requires police officers to determine the immigration status of people they lawfully stop. Critics say that leads to abuses like racial profiling.

Villaraigosa is willing to ignore the boycott to keep the red light cameras rolling.

The red light cameras record violations and supposedly help keep people from running red lights, causing accidents.

"Continue with the contract until such time as we can re-evaluate bidders and I support that," said the mayor.

The city needs to extend its contract for 10 months with the Arizona firm that supplies and maintains the cameras.

The city loses nearly $400,000 a year on the cameras. Each of the 32 intersections costs the city more than $8,100 a month.

The thousands of citations don't pay for the costs of the program, which the city would like to expand. But there can be no price put on the human lives that may have been saved.

"Because of those cameras, people slow down. They don't run red lights as much. They're a second tier protection particularly at those intersections that have been found to have a disproportionate number of people run red lights," the mayor explained.

Eyewitness News spoke with four local residents who didn't want to be identified as supporters of the red light cameras. They all felt that the cameras have made the intersection safer, particularly at Figueroa and Imperial Highway.

The city council is scheduled to decide Tuesday whether it will be boycotting Arizona or supporting traffic safety.


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