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"Photo Red Cam" 30 Day Grace Period at 7th/Redondo Begins Oct. 15; Bellflower/Willow Photo Red Cam To Start Nov. 15 With No Grace Period

More cams to follow at Artesia/Cherry, Anaheim/Redondo

(October 11, 2001) -- On Monday October 15, LB's first "photo red cam" -- poised to take digital video of drivers running red lights that (after LBPD officer review) can result in a $271 ticket and negative DMV point -- will begin operating at 7th St./Redondo Ave. on October 15.

At this location only, the city's first, there will be a 30 day "grace period" in which errant drivers will receive a warning notice...until November 15. Starting November 15, real tickets will issue at 7th and Redondo.

Additionally on November 15, a second photo red cam at Bellflower Blvd. and Willow Ave. is now planned to become operational...and, police say, it will carry no "grace period" (i.e. real tickets will issue immediately).

At least two other LB photo red cams are planned, one at Cherry Ave. and Artesia Blvd. (by end of 2001) and another at Anaheim St. and Redondo Ave. (early 2002).

Photo red cams are the result of voted actions by various levels of elected officials. The CA legislature (Sacramento) authorized local cities to install the photo red cams and impose the hefty fines. Revenue from the fine is allocated between state, county and local government.

LB City Hall will give a percentage of the fine revenue to a private firm that maintains the cameras. However, issuance of the citations is done by the City, not by the private firm.

When the question of authorizing photo red cams in LB came before the City Council, city staff indicated City Hall could receive over $1 million per year in revenue from the fines. The City Council by public vote (Baker dissenting) authorized the photo red cams in LB.

City Hall says the high tech automated enforcement system is meant to "reduce the number of red light violations and collisions, to modify driver behavior, and to promote safer driving."

An LBPD press release notes national data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows on average more than 200,000 injuries and 800 deaths result annually from running red lights. The press release also indicates CA experienced 956 red light related fatalities over a six-year period and LB is "taking steps to decrease these terrible accidents."

LBPD Officer/Detective Doug Robbins of the Traffic Section told locations for the photo red cams were chosen based on LB intersections demonstrating the worst history of red light running accidents.

LB's photo red system uses digital video evidence. Det. Robbins said LB's photo red system differs from one in San Diego that recently triggered legal challenges. Among other things, LB's system does not use "ground loops" for detection.

Det. Robbins also told that LB's share of the fine revenue amounts to roughly $41, about 15%, of the total $271 fine. He noted prospective citations will be reviewed by a police officer (him) before they are issued.

He also pointed out LB's system will record and permit review of actual video (not just still pictures), permitting assessment of what took place surrounding a prospective citation.

LBPD's press release says, "Unlike other camera systems, this [LB's]system uses several full view angles of recorded video footage allowing objective review of what occurred at the intersection." It adds that prospective violations captured on video will first be reviewed by a police officer and "if it is determined that the violation is questionable or the result of extenuating circumstances, the citation will not be issued."

In answer to a query by about so-called "fast yellow" lights, Det. Robbins said the city has extended the amber (yellow) light period at 7th/Redondo from 3.0 seconds to 3.3 seconds (on Redondo) and to 3.7 seconds (on 7th St.).

Det. Robbins noted this was done to comply with standards contained in SB667 (a bill enacted into law this year by the CA legislature). SB 667 specifies in part that "At each intersection at which there is an automated enforcement system in operation, the minimum yellow light change interval shall be established in accordance with the Traffic Manual of the Department of Transportation."

SB 667 also says, "Any city utilizing an automated traffic enforcement system at intersections shall, prior to issuing citations, commence a program to issue only warning notices for 30 days. The local jurisdiction shall also make a public announcement of the automated traffic enforcement system at least 30 days prior to the commencement of the enforcement program."

[ note: Based on LBPD's intention to begin issuing citations at Bellflower/Willow on November 15 without a 30 day grace period, we presume City Hall interprets SB 667 to require only one 30-day grace period (at 7th/Redondo) and none at other LB photo red intersections.)]

SB 667 also says "the registered owner or any individual identified by the registered owner as the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation shall be permitted to review the photographic evidence of the alleged violation."

It further provides that notwithstanding the CA Public Records Act, "photographic records made by an automated enforcement system shall be confidential, and shall be made available only to governmental agencies and law enforcement agencies..." and for purposes of SB 667, "any confidential information obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles for the administration or enforcement of this article shall be held confidential, and may not be used for any other purpose."

LBPD notes that at each photo red cam location, the "intersection will be clearly posted that automated enforcement is in use."

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