“Red light cameras jeopardize public safety and invade the personal privacy of Coloradans. After carrying this bill for three years unsuccessfully, I’m very optimistic it will become law this year,” said Sen. Scott Renfroe (R-Greeley).
“I commend my Senate colleagues for their votes on this bill and urge the House to quickly pass it and Gov. Hickenlooper to sign it when it reaches his desk,” said Renfroe who co-sponsored the Senate Bill 181 with Sen. Lucia Guzman (D-Denver).
Officials from a dozen municipal police departments had testified against the measure, asserting that the use of red light cameras and photo radar has enhanced public safety.
Critics called it a “Robocop” system that increases revenue but not safety, deprives citizens of their constitutional right to due process, and violates the principle of innocence until proven guilty.
“Clearly we are not running this program to make money. We are doing so because it makes our community safer,” said Dave Hayes, deputy chief of the Boulder Police Department, who reeled of statistics showing a reduction in traffic violations at two dangerous intersections.
Guzman said she co-sponsored the bill in response to her constituents’ complaints about receiving citations two or three weeks after being photographed at an intersection.
After observing red light cameras at an intersection in Denver, Guzman noted that cameras were triggered because vehicle bumpers were slightly over the white pedestrian crosswalk line.
The measure “really isn’t about any municipality making money or the so-called laundering of money,” to fund city coffers, said Guzman.
“If we are being photographed, we have a constitutional right to be stopped by a (law enforcement) individual and be ticketed by someone who comes face-to-face with us,” said Guzman.
The red light cameras and photo radar system generates more than $7 million in revenue a year for Denver, said Guzman, who cited an audit performed by City Auditor Dennis Gallagher in 2011.
“Unfortunately, Denver (Police Department) has not demonstrated that the photo radar program has had a positive impact on safety,” stated Gallagher. “These programs were sold as public safety enhancements, but are widely viewed as a cash grab.”
“It undermines public trust to maintain photo enforcement programs that are profitable but whose safety impact has not been conclusively shown,” Gallagher concluded.
Renfroe said, “Our public trust in government has been eroded.”
“This is about our liberties. This is about our freedoms,” said Renfroe of the measure to ban the red light cameras and photo radar.