Violators can’t hide from cameras

DENTON — The Police Department’s message to drunken drivers, speeders and other traffic scofflaws is clear: If you break the law — no matter what time, day or night — you will be caught.

Denton’s new automated red-light camera system vigilantly keeps watch on four Denton intersections around the clock. It provides police with photos and video of traffic violations.

During a 30-day warning period that just expired, the cameras documented an average of 137 violations a day, said Jim Bryan, a spokesman for the Denton Police Department.

“The fundamental goal of the red-light cameras is public safety, first and foremost,” said John Cabrales Jr., a Denton city spokesman. “We don’t have the manpower to watch the intersections 24/7 to make sure people are driving using common sense out there.”

Denton is one of a handful of cities using the system, Cabrales said. Plano, Richardson and Frisco are using it, and others — such as Houston — are considering it, he said.

Denton police Lt. Scott Fletcher said the six cameras cost the city $4,870 apiece a month. Revenue from tickets will pay for the cameras as well as traffic education, engineering improvements and enforcement.

The city contracted with Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Solutions in November. The intersections were chosen because of accidents and violations, traffic volume and the difficulty uniformed officers have working violations there.

“The company does all the maintenance and sets up the cameras,” Fletcher said.

Violations are identified by Redflex employees and confirmed by a Denton police officer before tickets are mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle — along with photos of the violation and a link to a Web site where the violator can watch a 12-second video of the offense, officials said.

Mayor Euline Brock said the technology “is a fantastic tool that will enhance the ability of our police personnel to enforce laws and keep our citizens safe.”

“This technology has already been implemented in several other communities and has helped to prevent accidents and save lives,” she said in a news release.
IN THE KNOW Red-light camera system

The system is expected to reduce the number of red-light violations, including crashes and injuries.

It is allowed under Senate Bill 1184, passed by the Legislature in September 2003. It lets cities impose civil penalties against the owner of a motor vehicle for a violation of a municipal ordinance.
Ben Tinsley, (817) 685-3821