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LAPD Commission votes to end LA's red-light camera program

June 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's the beginning of the end of red-light cameras in Los Angeles. The L.A. Police Commission has voted to end the program.

The commission raised several issues, including the cost of the program. It is a money-loser for the city. Safety is another issue. According to evidence presented to the commission, the worst offenders receive no penalty, so there is not deterrent value.

Red-light cameras are often cursed by offending drivers, praised by LAPD as a safety measure, yet questioned by many -- especially the cost.

The police commission voted unanimously against them. After a lengthy review, many concerns came down to ineffectiveness.

What many ticketed motorists didn't know is that there is no penalty for ignoring the ticket. The courts send your name to a collection agency. But according to LAPD Commissioner Alan Skobin, the courts take no legal action.

"The courts are not enforcing the citations that people fail to respond to," said Skobin. "They don't issue a warrant, they don't have a summons, they don't put a hold on the registration of the vehicle."

And that collection notice? Ignore it and it goes away, because the agency does not have your picture or any proof of a violation.

"Those who are aware there is no enforcement of them, or frankly just don't care for the system, or are not responsible to the system, don't pay it," said Skobin. "And there's no repercussions to those who don't pay it, versus those who may shell out the $500."

Critics, led by the group Safer Streets L.A. argued that safety could be better served with other measures.

"There are other things we could be doing, such as lengthening the yellow lights and maybe putting in some pedestrian crosswalk signs and things like that that would actually make people safer," said Jay Beeber, SaferStreetsLA.org.

The question now is whether the Los Angeles City Council will accept the commission's decision or contest it. It's the council who has the power over the camera system. It is uncertain whether there are enough votes to stop to the commission's action.

The company that operates the system is working on a month-to-month contract.

The red-light cameras will remain in commission until June 17.

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