Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brooksville weighs installing cameras to catch red-light runners

BROOKSVILLE — Brooksville is considering the use of cameras to put a stop to red-light runners.

The City Council will review a proposal tonight from the Brooksville Police Department to install cameras at some of the city's most dangerous intersections.

If council members approve, city officials will work with American Traffic Solutions, a Scottsdale, Ariz., company, to figure out which 10 intersections in Brooksville could use cameras.

"I think it's a fantastic program," said police Chief George Turner, who submitted the proposal to the council. "Anything you can do to reduce crashes and make the roadway safer is a good thing to do. And in these days of doing more with less, these cameras will be posted 24-7."

With Turner leading the way, Brooksville has become the latest municipality in the Tampa Bay area to push for red light cameras, or a "photographic traffic enforcement program," as it is referred to in the proposal.

Hillsborough County commissioners approved a similar plan March 7. Clearwater, Port Richey and Temple Terrace, among others, have also considered pitches from ATS. And Turner noted that Florida cities such as Apopka and Gulf Breeze have already implemented similar programs with great success.

At a Hernando County Commission meeting this month, Commissioner Diane Rowden proposed having ATS come to a commission meeting to make a presentation. County Attorney Garth Coller threw up a caution signal, though. He told commissioners that he sometimes advises against following the lead of other municipalities because "sometimes political will goes against legality."

But ATS and other municipalities have, thus far, been able to work around a legal opinion issued in 2005 by the Florida Attorney General's Office that cautions against the use of red-light cameras by municipalities to issue traffic tickets.

To comply with the opinion, Turner said, cities such as Apopka and Gulf Breeze issue civil infractions, which are similar to parking tickets, and not traffic tickets.

In response, state Department of Transportation officers have warned other Florida municipalities that it will not allow the use of red-light cameras on state highways and roads. That could potentially affect Brooksville, which would almost certainly place cameras at certain intersections along State Road 50.

"Until a law is passed, we can't have them on state roadways," said Marian Scorza, a local spokeswoman with the DOT. "There's currently some bills before the Legislature talking about these red-light cameras. We'll do what the Legislature directs us to do. But for now, they're not allowed on our right of way."

Attorney George Angeliadis of the Hogan Law Firm, which represents Brooksville, said that shouldn't pose a problem. The city would simply have to place cameras on nearby property held by the city or private owners, Angeliadis said.

"We anticipate having to find properties that aren't in the state right of ways," Angeliadis said. "All in all, we think it's a great program."

The city would pay nothing to have the cameras installed, according to the proposal. Instead, ATS would install and care for the cameras and make its money by taking $40 from every $125 ticket issued to a violator.

Motorists who run red lights would be photographed by the cameras twice — as the vehicle approaches the light and then crossing the intersection. The cameras would also shoot a video, which would be available for the violator to watch online.

The system does allow for exceptions, said ATS spokesman Josh Weiss, noting that an ATS employee will review the video and photographs before sending them to an employee in the Brooksville Police Department. The Brooksville officer will ultimately decide whether a violation has occurred.

"There's several checks and balances in this system," Weiss said.

Though city officials acknowledge the system could generate some additional revenue for the city, they all point to improving safety on local roadways as the top priority. Turner and City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha said information from ATS shows a tremendous reduction in the number of serious accidents.

Weiss boasts the system can reduce the number of red-light runners by as much as 60 percent. And Turner said in a memo to the council that Gulf Breeze has had a 25 percent reduction in traffic accidents.

"Anytime that you can reduce accidents and save lives," Norman-Vacha said, "you do it."

Times staff writer Barbara Behrendt contributed to this report. Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6120.

Brooksville weighs installing cameras to catch red-light runners 03/16/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 17, 2008 3:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards

    Business

    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

]

  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say

    Crime

    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.