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Red-light camera program's fate up to LA City Council

June 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Red light cameras could be a thing of the past in Los Angeles. The L.A. Police Commission has voted to turn them off, but the L.A. City Council has the final say.

The police commission rejected a new contract with the Arizona company that manages the 32 cameras in the city Tuesday. There appears to be little interest among city council members to take action to keep the program running.

"I respect the police commission," said L.A. City Councilmember Dennis Zine. "They are an independent body of diverse people of the city. I totally respect their decision. I've been complaining about red light cameras for a long time and I'm glad the police commission took this position to terminate the program."

Though Zine agrees with the commission's recommendation, other council members believe the cameras do help make intersections safer. Jan Perry cites one south L.A. intersection in particular.

"Before the red light was installed there was an intersection with people crashing at the light quite a bit," said Perry. "We put the red light in and it did act as a deterrent. Whether or not it's cost effective is a whole separate issue."

One of the main points made by the commission is that the cameras cost the city too much money because the courts aren't going after violators who fail to pay. Some people pay and some don't, which makes the program unfair to those who follow the rules.

"You just get the ticket and don't pay for it? Is that true?" said resident Harmik Abrahamian. "Well then why don't you get rid of that stupid law?"

The council has until June 17 to assert jurisdiction over the commission's decision and save the red lights from extinction, but right now it seems unlikely. Though some council-members suggest they may re-visit the idea at a later time.

"Since the tickets aren't enforceable and we require state legislation to actually make them enforceable," said L.A. City Councilmember Tony Cardenas. "I think we should wait until certain things happen and then renew the discussion and then possibly reintroduce it in the city of L.A."


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