Council Bluffs Red-Light Cams Have Produced 5,500 Tickets
Glitch In System Produced Fewer Tickets Than Expected

POSTED: 4:16 pm CST January 31, 2006
UPDATED: 5:18 pm CST January 31, 2006
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa -- Council Bluffs police have issued more than 5,000 tickets for running red lights since cameras went up at city intersections last summer, but officials said the number should be higher.

The city has seven cameras mounted at five intersections. A camera at 7th Street and Willow Avenue takes pictures of drivers traveling south on 7th. There are two cameras at 8th Street and West Broadway to monitor traffic in both directions along Broadway. Two cameras are also positioned at 16th Street and West Broadway. At 21st Street and West Broadway, one camera monitors drivers headed west. At 35th Street and West Broadway, one camera tracks eastbound traffic.

Roughly 5,500 tickets have come after officers reviewed more than 8,000 video clips from the cameras.

In August, Council Bluffs police issued 1,257 tickets for running red lights. From there, the number of tickets issued each month continued to drop. Low numbers in November were a sign of problems with the cameras.

"They were supposed to be cold-weather tolerant, and it turns out that the ones supplied weren't.," said Public Works Director Greg Reeder.

The city now thinks that problem is fixed.

Council Bluffs Police Officer Jason Bailey said that it takes an average of an hour to 90 minutes each day to issue tickets. Council Bluffs officials said they get two to three dozen people appealing the violation each month, but that number is expected to drop in February. That's when red-light runners can access video of themselves running the reds from their home computer.

Reeder said most people who go to court to protest the ticket are shown the video and give up the fight, opting to pay the fine instead.

The $65 camera ticket is considered a civil infraction, which normally doesn't affect a driverís record or insurance. Of that, as much as $45 goes back to the camera company. Council Bluffs has brought in about $50,000 off the cameras so far.

Council Bluffs officials are now talking about expanding the red-light camera program. One option is for the cameras to catch speeders along with red-light runners.