Lawmakers seeks to ban red light cameras, photo radar vans in Colorado

Scott Renfroe's proposal has bipartisan support

DENVER - Red light cameras and photo radar vans are hot button issues in Colorado.

Police say they make intersections and roadways safer, but many motorists insist that the cameras and radar vans are used mainly to generate revenue.

Today, Republican Senator Scott Refroe, of Greeley, introduced a bill to ban red light cameras and photo radar vans in Colorado.  It’s his second attempt.  The first one in 2012 went nowhere. This time, he has the backing of several prominent Democratic lawmakers, including Senate President Morgan Carol, Senate President Pro-Tem Lucia Guzman and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino.

When asked why he wanted to do away with the cameras, Renfroe replied, “We should be about safety, not revenue.”

Refroe cited a report by the Denver City Auditor which stated that police had not shown the specific public safety impact of either program.

“There are other ways to make intersections safer.” he said. “One is by extending the length of the yellow light.”

In 2012, then Denver Police Department spokesman John White told 7NEWS, “We do not see this or view this as a revenue generator.  If we did, we would have them instituted at every intersection in the City and County of Denver.”

But the Auditor’s Report shows that revenue from both the Photo Radar and Red Light Camera programs exceed expenditures.

“The Photo Radar program generated approximately $3.6 million in revenue for 2010,” the audit stated, “with net revenues totaling almost $400,000.”

For the first ten months of 2011, total revenue bumped up to $5.9 million.  Net jumped to $955,000.

The Auditor’s Report shows that the Red Light program, after retooling to better capture violators, generates about $230,000 a month. That equates to $2.76 million a year.

“I think the cities started with good intentions,” Guzman said. “They saw the number of accidents and wanted to come up with a way to deal with them.”

The Senator told 7NEWS that she now believes these systems are not working in the best interest and that there are better ways to deal with the safety issue.

“One of them is reengineering the problem intersections,” she said, “extending the length of the yellow light.”

She said the cameras are intrusive and that drivers prefer that infractions be caught by officers.

Refroe’s bill will be heard next week in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

Ten states prohibit the use of photo radar or red-light camera enforcement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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