Safety groups, police chiefs push to keep red light cameras
By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – A statewide coalition of police chiefs and other public safety advocates have launched an effort to beat back legislation that would outlaw the use of cameras to enforce traffic violations at intersections.
The legislation is sponsored by Republican state Senator Jim Lembke of south St. Louis County, who says he has constitutional concerns about the cameras. A federal court has ruled the cameras are constitutional, but the ruling does not apply to Missouri.
"And I doubt very seriously if you could point to a report that could indicate that this is changing behavior," Lembke said. "I think that most likely most of these are caused not by willfully disregarding a law that's in place, I think it's because people aren't paying attention."
Hazelwood police chief Carl Wolf, a founding director of the coalition, called Missouri Families for Safer Roads, says statistics disprove the senator's arguments. Hazelwood has had the cameras for two years as part of a broader traffic management plan, and Wolf says citations for running red lights are down 53 percent.
"We have not had a fatal accident at any of the red light enforced camera intersections since they've been in effect," he said.
Coalition members paid for most of the start-up costs out of pocket. A spokesman says the group would welcome donations from red light camera vendors.