Aurora cuts red-light cam­eras

Vot­ers do away with the tick­et­ing sys­tem, which helped pay for vi­tal city pro­grams.

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Sam Tabach­nik

Come Jan. 1, Aurora driv­ers will be free to cruise through a red light with­out a cam­era flash­ing and cap­tur­ing their cars vi­o­lat­ing the law.

With an over­whelm­ing twothirds ma­jor­ity, Aurora vot­ers on Tues­day elected to do away with red-light cam­eras at 10 in­ter­sec­tions through­out the city.

Some city of­fi­cials, how­ever, are now wor­ried about where they will find crit­i­cal fund­ing for Aurora or­ga­ni­za­tions that ben­e­fit from the tick­et­ing rev­enue.

The red-light pro­gram, which has been around since 2005, raised more than $2.4 mil­lion in 2017 on over 46,000 tick­ets, ac­cord­ing to data pro­vided by Aurora. A por­tion of that money, nearly $500,000, goes to or­ga­ni­za­tions re­lated to men­tal health and detox pro­grams, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence ser­vices and child abuse and ad­vo­cacy groups. An­other $288,000 goes to­ward vic­tim ser­vices such as cri­sis in­ter­ven­tion and health ser­vices.

“These pro­grams are vi­tal,” said Bob Roth, Aurora city coun­cil­man. “Peo­ple didn’t un­der­stand some of the sig­nif­i­cance of what this meant.”

In ad­di­tion to the rev­enue raised, Roth cited safety as an­other con­cern. But data from the city show that to­tal crashes at these in­ter­sec­tions have ac­tu­ally gone up over the past five years.

To­tal crashes have in­creased to 80 in 2017 from 65 in 2013, a 23 per­cent bump. In­juries from these crashes have also in­creased to 23 in 2017 from eight in 2013.

“Per­haps that’s why our vot­ers voted it down,” said Sgt. Bill Hum­mel, spokesman for the po­lice de­part­ment, ref­er­enc­ing these crash num­bers.

The Aurora Po­lice De­part­ment did not take an of­fi­cial po­si­tion on the vote.

Aurora Mayor Mayor Bob LeGare said in a state­ment that al­though he was “sur­prised the red light bal­lot ques­tion failed by such a large mar­gin,” he was not dis­ap­pointed, since it’s been a “con­tro­ver­sial is­sue for city coun­cil ev­ery year and has been a con­stant source of dis­cus­sion at the state level.”

“The vot­ers have spo­ken to put an end to that con­tro­versy in Aurora,” he con­tin­ued.

After the red-light cam­eras of­fi­cially go away in Jan­uary, po­lice will have to ad­just, Hum­mel said.

“We don’t have a crys­tal ball as to what sort of im­pact this might have on pub­lic safety,” he said.

Other cities in the metro area have also had red light cam­eras re­moved in past years.

Lit­tle­ton City Coun­cil voted unan­i­mously in 2015 to re­move all five of its red light cam­eras after a study found the de­vices are no longer mak­ing money and do­ing lit­tle to re­duce ac­ci­dents.

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