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Posts Tagged ‘red-light cameras’

Red-light and speed-enforcement cameras a step closer as city seek proposals for “bullet-resistant” cameras that provide “indisputable” proof

In City Hall, Police Department on April 29, 2009 at 8:01 am

City Hall and the Police Department weren’t kidding.

The two have now moved ahead and are seeking proposals, due May 18, from contractors who will install and maintain red-light enforcement cameras at up to 10 intersections as well as a mobile speed-enforcement camera and a fixed speed-enforcement camera.

For the contractor who wins the city’s business, cameras are expected to be in place at four intersections within 90 days after the award of a contract and in place at six others within six months. The mobile speed-enforcement camera should be ready by Sept. 1 and the fixed speed-enforcement camera by Oct. 1.

For violators, warning tickets with snapshots of a violation will arrive in the mail for the first month the system is in operation.

The city is seeking an automated, digital traffic-camera enforcement program that is a “total turn-key operation with no program expenditures to be incurred by the city.”

Just how much an actual ticket will cost a violator to cover the contractor’s needs and the city’s needs will be part of each contractor’s proposal to the city.

The contractor pays for cameras, computer hardware, computer software, poles, wiring, installation, maintenance, training, reporting, community education and awareness on issues related to red-light violations.

Some intersections may have cameras at more than one approach to the intersection, and the city also wants a system that can expand to more intersections.

In its request for proposal, the city says it would prefer a camera system that provides both still photos and video of sufficient resolution to ensure “indisputable” proof of violations.

The cameras will capture an image of a vehicle’s rear license plate as well as a view of the specific intersection in which the violation is alleged to have occurred. The cameras must have a capability of flashing to take pictures at night and the cameras must be tamper-resistant and “bullet-resistant.”

The city’s request for proposals notes, too, that the red-light and speeding infractions will be city offenses and so will not be reported to insurance companies or the state motor vehicle office. Cedar Rapids police officers will review all photos and determine if an offense has occurred. Appeals of infractions will be made to the court system.

The contract is for three years.

The city’s proposal requires the contractor to remove the system at no cost to the city if the state of Iowa or the courts in the future decide that the cameras no longer are permitted. (To date, state courts have allowed the cameras). At each one-year point in the contract, the city also can ask that the system be removed if the city determines it is not effective.

The city is asking each of the companies submitting proposals to provide a fee structure, which details how much revenue goes to the company and how much to the city.

The city will pick a contractor based on 10 criteria, including qualifications and experience, references, total scope of services being offered and fee structure.

In the city budget for the fiscal year beginning July, the city anticipates it can raise $750,000 for the city from the enforcement cameras.

Tickets go to the owners of vehicles, whether they were driving or not. The city has said the owner has the responsibility to get the ticket to the driver or pay the ticket.

A visit with the police chief makes it easy to see how red-light and speed enforcement cameras will bring in some money

In Police Department on April 10, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Police Chief Greg Graham was talking this week about red-light enforcement cameras plus a mobile camera or two to catch speeders.

The cameras, ten or so, will be in place in Cedar Rapids by early summer.

The chief can go on about how he’s bringing the enforcement cameras to the city to reduce the number of crashes here.

He cites studies that show cities that use enforcement cameras can cut crashes by 20 percent. In 2008, he said the Cedar Rapids Police Department worked 5,000 crashes, taking up countless hours of police work. The number of hours worked on accidents far exceeds the number of hours the department is now devoting to patrolling neighborhoods, he said. And then there is all the gnarled metal; the motorist hospitalizations; the insurance claims.

Graham dismisses any suggestion that the cameras are all about revenue. Even so, the cameras are projected to bring $750,000 a year in ticket revenue into the department’s coffers. And that is just the department’s share. A private company will own the cameras, install them and maintain them and even collect the revenue.

It’s hard to imagine the cameras can generate that kind of revenue until Graham keeps talking.

Firstly, the chief, who came to Cedar Rapids from Ocala, Fla., last June, says people run a lot of red lights in Cedar Rapids. In fact, Graham, who always wears his police uniform, has handed out red-light tickets to people himself.

Secondly, Graham hinted that an individual ticket might cost some money because the vendor’s fee may be added to the ticket amount not included in it.

And thirdly, he suggested that a mobile camera designed to catch speeders might work spots on Interstate 380, including the curves through the downtown. It sounded like a revenue gold mine.

Graham challenged residents to prove him wrong so the Police Department gets no revenue from the cameras.

“How great would that be?” he said.