Red light cameras bill not popular

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The legislation that would let local law enforcement issue traffic citations based on images taken by red light cameras got a less than positive reception in the Senate Growth and Infrastructure Committee Tuesday.

One of the key critics was Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, who advised Amy Davey of the Office of Traffic Safety he was the one who killed the bill the last time it came up 10 years ago.

Atkinson said he was concerned that typically those cameras get installed disproportionately in low income areas such as his district and impacts those people more so than those living in wealthier communities.

Davey said she was bringing the legislation that doesn’t install the systems but, instead, allows local jurisdictions to decide if they want the cameras for safety reasons. She said it would require Automatic Traffic Enforcement Systems to be a last resort after conventional means of reducing accidents at dangerous intersections had been unsuccessful. Atkinson was joined by Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, in questioning whether the systems do any good. Settelmeyer said he would have trouble supporting the bill without multiple camera angles and other safeguards.

Sen. Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, too raised questions about how the systems would be implemented after Davey said much of the rules would be developed by individual communities.

“I love conformity especially when it comes to the rules of the road,” he said.

He and Atkinson also questioned giving the registered owner the speeding or red light ticket when that person may not have been the driver. The bill says in that case, the owner can simply identify who was driving the car that day. In addition, Atkinson questioned whether police could start ticketing for other infractions but Davey said it specifically limits to traffic lights and speeding and more legislation would be required to include other offenses.

Holly Welborn of the ACLU said that group doesn’t believe Americans should be subjected to yet another level of surveillance.

“It’s rife for abuse by law enforcement,” she said.

She said the studies she has seen actually show little benefit to safety and some states are now looking to repeal laws allowing those cameras. She too said putting a disproportionate number of cameras in marginalized and low income communities is a concern.

The only supporters of SB43 were from law enforcement — Chuck Callaway of the Metropolitan Police and Eric Spratley of the Nevada Sheriff’s and Chiefs Association.

Callaway said he envisions the bill as a last resort after other methods including police officers at an intersection failed to reduce speeds and accidents.

He said each camera image would be reviewed by an officer before a citation to ensure it was valid.

The committee took no action on SB43.


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