Chief wants speed cameras on I-380

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CEDAR RAPIDS (MCT) — Police Chief Greg Graham said he’ll use the new red-light enforcement cameras to catch speeders — including some on those Interstate 380 curves through the downtown where the limit is 55 mph.

Ten or so of the cameras — which the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled constitutional — will be installed around Cedar Rapids this summer, possibly as early as June.

Graham cites studies show ing that cities using the enforcement cameras can cut crashes by 20 percent.

In 2008, the Cedar Rapids Police Department worked 5,000 crashes, taking up many hours of police work.

The number of hours worked on accidents far exceeds the number of hours the department is now devoting to patrolling neighborhoods, he said.

Graham, in a conversation this month with The Gazette’s Editorial Board. dismissed the suggestion that the cameras are all about revenue.

Even so, the cameras are projected to bring $750,000 a year in ticket revenue into the department’s coffers. A private company will own the cameras, install and maintain them and even collect the revenue.

The chief, who came to Ce dar Rapids from Ocala, Fla., last June, said that is a realistic figure because people run a lot of red lights in Cedar Rapids. In fact, Graham, who always wears his police uniform, has handed out red-light tickets to people himself.

Graham also hinted that an individual ticket might cost additional money because the vendor’s fee may be added to the ticket amount, not included in it.

Graham also suggested that a mobile camera designed to catch speeders might work spots on Interstate 380, including the curves through downtown. Anyone who drives the interstate knows that could be a revenue gold mine.

Graham challenged residents to prove him wrong, to show there are no speeders or red-light runners in the city, so the Police Department gets no revenue from the cameras.

“How great would that be?” he said.