City puts stop to red-light cameras

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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There will be no more red-light cameras in Rocklin. The city and police department have decided to end their five-year contract with Phoenix-based Redflex Traffic Systems, which maintain the city’s two red-light cameras. “We feel these cameras have done their job,” Rocklin Police Captain Dan Ruden told the city council Feb. 24. “They’ve had sort of a halo effect so we’ve seen safety go up at other intersections. We did see the behaviors change and we saw improvements.” According to Ruden, driver red-light violations recorded by the cameras at Sunset Boulevard and Park Drive have dropped by 40 percent since 2008. The camera citations at Interstate 80 and Rocklin Road have dropped 62 percent since 2009. “Those intersections wouldn’t generate enough revenue to cover the costs of running the system in the future,” Ruden said. Ruden also pointed to other challenges for the program as a reason not to renew the contract at this time. “There is some legislation out which makes red-light camera programs a little bit tenuous in California right now,” Ruden said. Redflex sorts through all of the alleged violations and only forwards what they deem are clear violations, according to police. That’s when they identify the vehicle and the registered owner through links with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and forward that information to the Rocklin Police Department, which then issues a ticket. “DMV is reviewing that policy,” Ruden said. “If the DMV stops allowing Redflex to make those inquiries and gather all that driver and registration information for us, then that all falls back to us. And we’re concerned about that.” City Manager Rick Horst said courts have also challenged the programs’ legality in other states. Councilman Brett Storey said the cameras were always about public safety rather than how much money the cameras were making. “I want to remind all of us that the reason we put those cameras in had nothing to do with dollars. It had to do with (the fact that) we had several crashes at those two intersections,” Storey said. Comparative accident data was not available, according to Ruden. The fine for red-light running is $328 of which the city of Rocklin reportedly received $135. Each camera cost $5,770 per intersection per year and would need two paid violations per day to break even, according to city documents. Rocklin driver Melissa Lobb said she’s happy the contract is canceled. “There should be more police out, not cameras everywhere,” Lobb said. “I think you should get honked at not your picture taken. People really don’t run red lights on purpose. Obviously if you get into an accident, you should be penalized for it.” Rocklin driver Chad Francis disagrees with Lobb and said public safety will now be at risk in those intersections. “I think that’s a poor decision on their part,” Francis said. “Public safety would be affected. People wouldn’t have a repercussion for running a red light. If they are more likely to run it then they are more likely to cause an accident, injure themselves and other people.” Ruden said drivers need to be aware that the program could come back at anytime. “(Officers) will continue to monitor those intersections and others in town and we may come back to (the council) at a future date recommending to continue the program,” Ruden told the council. The red-light camera contract ends March 8. Red-light camera ticket totals Park & Sunset Intersection 2006 - 370 citations 2007 - 653 citations 2008 - 667 Citations 2009 - 263 Citations 2010 - 118 Citations Jan 2011 - 5 Citations • 40 percent decrease in citations since 2008 Interstate 80 and Rocklin Road Intersection 2008 - 1456 Citations 2009 - 1916 Citations 2010 - 1170 Citations Jan 2011 - 99 Citations • 62 percent decrease in citations since 2009 Source: Rocklin Police Department