First off...... The city of Chicago has admitted in the story below that they are using the cameras to make a profit. Not just reduce accidents...... heres the story....
City OKs spending $7.5 mil. to hire traffic cops
June 20, 2006
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
Defying Mayor Daley, a joint City Council committee agreed today to spend $7.5 million generated by red light cameras to hire 100 more police officers to enforce the city's traffic laws.
Prior to the final vote, Budget Director Paul Volpe argued that the $12.3 million in camera revenues-expected to climb to $14.3 million after 30 more cameras are installed later this year-already has been earmarked for other purposes.
"We need a revenue source to pay for it-not only this year, but next year," Volpe said.
But, that didn't stop the Police and Budget Committees from approving the order over Volpe's objections.
That's how disgusted aldermen are with, what Transportation Committee Chairman Tom Allen (38th) calls the "complete lawlessness" by motorists.
"Nobody abides by the rules. Nobody's fearful of getting pulled over by a police officer for speeding, running a red light or running a stop sign. That's the reality," Allen said.
"We've got to start somewhere. It's been neglected for too long...We have to raise the level of awareness and the mindset of the Chicago Police Department, its leadership. I agree wholeheartedly with their crime-fighting tactics. But, they haven't listened to us. We've done the red-light cameras. We've done the speed vans. Nobody's listened to us....If the executive branch is not listening to us, what other [recourse] do we have?"
Traffic Committee Chairman Burton F. Natarus (42nd) referred to the speaker system that allows the mayor's office to monitor debate in the City Council chambers.
"I hope they hear me upstairs...This administration is not concerned about traffic. They're not concerned about the movement of pedestrians and vehicles," Natarus said.
Reiterating his longstanding complaints about traffic gridlock on North Michigan Avenue and about traffic enforcement aides who motorists "laugh at," Natarus said, "Chicago is at the bottom in terms of safety. That's why we're here today."
Deputy Chief of Patrol Michael McCotter said the 100 officers would amount to just two per district, with each writing roughly 10 to 15 tickets-a-day. McCotter said the money would be better spent on mobile speed vans that can pump out 200 tickets a day.
The Illinois General Assembly has authorized use of mobile speed vans in construction zones, but has balked at using them on Chicago streets.
McCotter also expressed concern about earmarking 100 officers "solely to do traffic."
"You will take away the ability of the district commander to assign them to different shifts, different watches, different duties....We prioritize our calls for service. If there's a crime going on, I don't want to see a police officer say, `I'm the traffic police. I don't do crime,' while a citizen gets hurt or is placed in some sort of danger," McCotter said.
Over the years, Chicago aldermen have tried everything from speed bumps, cul-de-sacs and traffic circles to lower speed limits, red-light cameras and mobile speed van experiments to curb, what Allen calls "Wild West" driving habits.
It hasn't worked. Never was that more evident than last month, when a 4-year-old girl leaving Lincoln Park Zoo with her mother and 5-year-old brother was run over and killed by a hit-and-run driver who blew through a stop sign.
Four days later, Allen drafted his order mandating the hiring of 100 police officers.
Currently, Chicago has 32 officers assigned to traffic enforcement, compared to 1,000 traffic officers in New York, 120 in Phoenix and 18 in Sioux Falls, S. D. Chicago has only 10 radar-equipped squad cars, or four per shift for the entire city.
On the day that Allen introduced the order, Mayor Daley made clear his objections. He argued that hiring more police officers was not the proper response to the horrific tragedy.
"I cannot put police officers out at every stop sign. We cannot put `em on every red light. It's called murder. I hope they...charge that individual with murder....If the police officer was standing there, [they'd] hit the police officer, too," the mayor said.
Pounding the podium, Daley said, "This is unacceptable in a civilized society. There are rules. There's responsibilities to every driver not to go through a stop sign or a red light. It's as simple as that."
Michael Roth, 57, has been charged with a single count of leaving the scene of a fatal crash. A vanity license plate that caught the eye of a witness led to his arrest.