Aurora considers photo radar for school zones

AURORA, Colo. - As students go back to school in Aurora Public Schools, the city of Aurora is considering getting a photo radar van strictly for school zones.

Aurora Police will give the Aurora city council public safety committee a final presentation on Tuesday afternoon, detailing the cost to staff a photo radar van versus the revenue from issuing tickets.

7NEWS wanted to know if the intent was to generate money or improve safety in school zones.

"For us, it's certainly about safety," said Lt. Jeff Turner, the traffic supervisor for Aurora Police. "Our job is to keep people safe as best we can and this is a potential tool."

Turner has been working on crunching the numbers for city council.

He will reveal the specific dollar amounts at the committee hearing on Tuesday.

If the program were to be approved, Turner would like to hire two part-time employees to man the photo radar van for 10 hours a day, five days a week for a total of 50 hours monitoring school zones.

The public safety committee will decide on Tuesday if the proposal should go in front of the entire city council.

At a committee hearing last month, the city attorney recommended that drivers not be ticketed unless they were caught going 12 miles an hour or more over the speed limit.

7NEWS wanted to know why.

"Why can't you ticket someone for going seven miles an hour over the speed limit?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"We can, but state statute says that nine miles an hour or less, they have to be given a written warning first," said Turner.

State law dictating the use of photo radar vans requires a written warning be sent to any driver caught going one-to-nine miles an hour over the speed limit, before a ticket can be issued if they're caught a second time. Drivers who are caught going 10 miles an hour or more over the speed limit are eligible for a ticket.

Aurora City Attorney George Zierk prefers 12 miles an hour or more so that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt in court that that driver was speeding.

He told 7NEWS that at 11 miles an hour, a driver could still argue that the calibration of the photo radar was off by one mile an hour or more, possibly allowing the ticket to be tossed out of court.

In July, Turner told the committee that about two out of every three drivers who receive a photo radar ticket, pay their fine. He also estimated that the revenue for issuing tickets at 12 miles an hour or more over the speed limit would be $197,000.

He told 7NEWS on Monday night that his estimate will likely be higher when he presents his final findings to the committee on Tuesday afternoon.

7NEWS checked with both Denver and Boulder Police and both departments also do not issue photo radar tickets unless the driver is caught going faster than 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. 

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