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  1. #1
    Yoda of Radar
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    Default St. Peters, Missouri gets traffic camera approval

    St. Peters traffic cameras could face own red light
    By Tim Bryant
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Monday, Jan. 23 2006

    ST. PETERS

    St. Peters has a new ordinance allowing installation of cameras to catch red
    light runners. But pending state legislation could alter the plan before an
    electronic cop-in-a-box can nab its first violator.

    Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, is sponsoring legislation to bar cities
    from using "photo radar," or automated traffic control systems, to enforce
    traffic laws. Crowell said last week that he may relent if certain restrictions
    are put in place.

    "I believe, in the end, there is merit to using (red light) cameras, and I've
    always thought that," he said. "But there need to be some protections. There
    needs to be a statewide standard, much like there is a statewide standard for
    radar guns."

    Arnold is the only city in the metro area to use cameras to catch red light
    violaters. Less than two weeks ago, St. Peters approved setting up a system.

    Crowell said he prefers red light camera videos to photos. Video evidence would
    excuse motorists who make legal right turns on red or who run lights to make
    way for emergency vehicles, he said.

    Fines become profits

    What especially alarms some municipal officials is Crowell's opposition to what
    he calls "contingency" deals, in which camera companies install and operate the
    systems in exchange for part of the money motorists pay in fines.

    Such deals, which are common, satisfy cities because they spend no money to
    build or operate the systems, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars
    for just a few intersections.

    Typically, the cameras are set atop poles at an intersection. Cars entering the
    intersection against a red light trigger a computer to take two pictures. The
    first one shows the car entering the intersection. The next one shows the car
    in the middle of it.

    Crowell differs with municipal leaders who say the electronic devices are a
    cost-effective alternative to a police officer in a patrol car.

    St. Peters Alderman Jerry Hollingsworth, who this month pushed through his
    city's red light camera ordinance, said he cannot understand why Crowell cares
    if the camera company gets a share of the ticket money.

    "It makes no sense to me," said Hollingsworth, adding that the private company
    would be unable to alter traffic signal operations and that police officials
    would review the photos before issuing tickets.

    Alderman Randy Crisler of Arnold, where red light cameras went on duty last
    year, said the public has had "a mixed reaction" to the system but that he
    believes it will reduce the number of traffic accidents. He defended the city's
    agreement to pay American Traffic Solutions $31.50 from each $94.50 fine
    collected for traffic signal violations.

    Crisler said getting caught by a camera in Arnold is better than getting
    stopped by a cop because photo-generated tickets are treated by the city as
    nonmoving violations and produce no drivers license points - and no insurance
    premium hikes - for motorists.

    "They're like parking tickets," Crisler said.

    Unlike the St. Peters system, which will include photos of drivers' faces, the
    Arnold system relies on license plate photos only. Crisler said Arnold
    officials are unwilling "to infringe on civil liberties" by photographing
    drivers.

    He said that, privately, Attorney General Jay Nixon has softened on his
    position that red light camera photos cannot be the only evidence to cite
    drivers for violating state traffic law. A spokesman for Nixon said the
    attorney general's position remains unchanged. The spokesman added that Nixon
    had yet to take a position on Crowell's bill.

    Sheldon Lineback, executive director of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association,
    said his group supports use of red light cameras. People who run lights have no
    greater privacy claims than robbers who are shown in store surveillance
    videotapes, he said.

    Crowell has discussed his bill with the association, but Lineback said the
    group is staying out of the dispute over contingency payments.

    "Our focus is not on the financial aspects," he said. "Our focus is on reducing
    the number of accidents and injuries."

    As the number of camera systems rises nationwide, so do sales of a product
    meant to foil the cameras, the seller claims.


    St. Peters officials have met with representatives of two camera companies and
    plan to select one soon. Hollingsworth said a small system, which will show
    drivers but not passengers, could be operating this spring.

    He said an "intangible benefit" of the system will be reduction of road stress.
    Rush hour drivers seethe as they often must wait at a green light as three or
    more cars speed through on red, he said.

    "Guess what?" he said of the waiting drivers. "It's 7 in the morning and I'm
    hacked already."
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  2. #2
    Yoda of Radar
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    Default

    Red-light camera firm is recommended
    By Tim Bryant
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Thursday, Feb. 23 2006

    ST. PETERS

    Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. of Alton has the inside track to install and
    operate a red-light camera system, which would initially cover six busy
    intersections.

    Aldermen voted 6-2 at their meeting Thursday night to put selection of a camera
    vendor on the board agenda for March 9. Aldermen Bruce Holt and Patrick Barclay
    voted no.

    Assistant Police Chief Mike Townsend told aldermen that he was recommending
    Redflex from among four red-light camera companies that had submitted
    proposals. Redflex's experience and its favorable fee proposal were among
    factors in the company's favor, Townsend said.

    Alderman Jerry Hollingsworth, the board's main proponent of red-light cameras,
    said pending state legislation would allow cities to treat tickets generated by
    red-light cameras as municipal violations. As a result, points would not be
    assessed against violators' drivers licenses.

    In addition, the legislation in its current form would prohibit red-light
    cameras from taking photos of drivers, Hollingsworth said. Photos of rear
    license plates of violators would be allowed.

    In general, red-light camera systems work like this:

    A vehicle entering an intersection against a red light activates a camera that
    photographs the vehicle's license plate.

    A ticket is mailed to the vehicle's owner.

    Aldermanic President Terry Hawkins said the city plans to issue warning tickets
    only for the first 30 days the system is in operation.

    Townsend presented aldermen his study, which shows that after Redflex collects
    its share of ticket revenue, totaling about $135,000 monthly, the city could
    net nearly $88,000, based on an average of 1,800 $75 tickets issued at six
    intersections. Townsend noted that the number of tickets actually issued might
    differ greatly from 1,800.

    Resident Paul Smith told aldermen that they appeared to be proceeding with
    red-light cameras without thoroughly researching their need. "I'd like to see
    more police officers on the street - that's what I'd like to see," he said.

    On another topic, aldermen discussed the positions of business owners unhappy
    with recent changes at the intersection of Veterans Memorial Parkway and Cave
    Springs Road.

    Randy Waddell, owner of the Mobil station on Veterans at Cave Springs, told
    aldermen that the changes have hurt his business. A traffic island preventing
    westbound Veterans Memorial drivers from crossing Cave Springs is the main
    problem, he said.

    "That island barrier is just a bad idea," he said. "It does need to be changed.
    It's a real hindrance to the elderly drivers. They get confused."

    In a recent memo, Cathy Pratt, the city's manager of engineering and
    development services, defended the changes. Planning for the project - a joint
    effort of St. Peters, St. Charles, St. Charles County and the Missouri
    Department of Transportation - began in 1998, Pratt wrote. She added that the
    changes were needed to improve the overall traffic flow in the area.
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  3. #3
    Yoda of Radar
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    Default

    Red-light cameras proceed with caution


    Red-light cameras proceed with caution
    Amanda C. Tinnin
    Of the Suburban Journals
    O'Fallon Mo Journal
    03/19/2006

    ST. PETERS

    A move to put digital cameras at intersections in the city of St. Peters has hit a yellow light.

    A proposed state Senate bill that would regulate red-light cameras has been amended to prohibit camera companies from receiving contingency fees from tickets.

    A ticket for running a red light in St. Peters currently carries a fine of $70, including court costs. If the city selects a company to install, maintain and manage the red-light cameras, that company would take a percentage of the fine as payment for its service.
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  4. #4
    Yoda of Radar
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    Default UPDATE

    Intersection cameras get green light
    Amanda C. Tinnin
    Of the Suburban Journals
    O'Fallon Mo Journal
    05/31/2006

    ST. PETERS

    Now that the state's red-light bill is dead, St. Peters is reconsidering its original plan to install red-light photo enforcement cameras at six intersections throughout the city.

    Board members have generally favored the use of red-light photo enforcement, but have raised questions about contingency fees and the discrepancy between moving and nonmoving violations.

    The Board of Aldermen on Thursday viewed a presentation by Redflex Traffic Systems. City staff has recommended the company as the red-light camera operator for the project.

    The board will decide at its June 8 meeting if Redflex will be the city's camera provider.

    Mark Etzbach, regional sales director for Redflex, provided the board with company background, information on other systems across the country and showed video footage of people caught running red lights.

    Etzbach also provided testimonials from police departments proving the success of the camera systems.

    Resident Paul Smith, however, reminded board members the information was being provided form someone who wanted the city's business.

    "He's a vendor," Smith said. "He's a sales rep. He's selling you an item."

    Smith said he supported police officers and wanted then to have all the tools they needed to make the streets safe. He said, however, he was against the red-light cameras.

    Smith cited a video Etzbach showed in which the camera systems captured a driver going more than 100 mph through an intersection.

    "Did that camera stop the car from going 100 mph?" Smith asked. "Everybody's interested to get a piece of the pie when it comes out of the other person's pocket."

    Smith also brought up the discrepancy between moving and nonmoving violations.

    The state does not recognize red-light cameras.

    If caught on camera in St. Peters, according to the city's code it would be a moving violation, but no point would be assessed against the driver's license. If a driver were caught by a police officer, however, points could be assessed against license.

    Alderman Bruce Holt, Ward 3, said he was opposed to the camera system because of this discrepancy.

    "It is an inequity in my mind," he said. "Whether it's an officer or a camera that catches you, you ran the red light."

    Alderman Patrick Barclay, Ward 4, said he thought the contingency scale was "ridiculous."

    Depending on how many citations are issues, the proposed contract with Redflex would give the company anywhere between 38 percent to nearly 65 percent of the fine.

    Etzbach explained that there was a cost involved in installing and maintaining the six camera systems within the city, as well as a cost of processing the citations.

    If a system issues 90 tickets or less a month, Redflex would get as much as 65 percent of the fine as a fee. A system that issues between 91 and 180 tickets per month would have a 51 percent contingency fee. A system that issues more than 180 would then have a 38 percent fee.

    Alderman Bob Morrison, Ward 4, said it was only fair for a company to adjust the price to meets its costs.

    As the city revisits the red light issues, other aldermen had questions about state actions.

    While the state did not pass any regulations about red-light cameras, Alderman Len Pagano, Ward 3, wanted to know what would happen if the city installed cameras this year and then next year the state said they were illegal.

    City Attorney Randy Weber said both parties had a contingency built into the contract.

    "We do have safety feature in the contract so the city does not get hit with any costs," he said.



    Amanda C. Tinnin can be reached at atinnin@yourjournal.com
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