Red Light Cameras to Stay for Now

Houston City Council approves a contract extension that allows the police department to use cameras at traffic intersections. The vote comes despite a plea from a staunch opponent and a measure pending in Austin that might ban the devices. Pat Hernandez has more.

The current contract for a photo traffic signal enforcement system for the HPD runs through next year. Before council voted whether to extend the agreement for five more years, it heard from Michael Kubosh, the city’s biggest opponent to the use of red light cameras:

“I’m asking you as members of this council to do the right thing, and to take down these cameras, and admit you did it for money and not for public safety.”

Council Member Melissa Noriega responded to Kubosh’s claim:

“I know that our initial presentation of this was in the interest of public safety, but I think that your point is well taken — that there are some financial pieces to this and we just need to look at it as we go along.”

The contract was extended, with Council Members Jolanda Jones and Michael Sullivan voting no. Mayor Bill White says there is evidence that red light cameras are a deterrent:

“And the money we collect goes back into traffic enforcement. But we’re in this stage where I think in ten years, jurisdictions will adopt this just because it makes a whole lot more economic sense than to have people either ignore traffic violations of this nature or have an officer at every intersection.”

Meanwhile, the Texas House of Representatives voted to bring an end to the use of red light cameras, by forbidding any new contracts after June 1st. The senate has yet to vote on a similar measure.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.