Over Objections from Law Enforcement, Texas Senate Panel Moves to Kill Red Light Cameras

Police from across the state lined up at a hearing of the Texas Senate's Transportation Committee to vouch for red light cameras. The cameras are not merely revenue generators, they prevent accidents and injuries, officers said.

"If I could put a police officer on every corner where I have a dangerous intersection, we would have [a] change of driver behavior," William Breedlove, a Corpus Christi police officer, said. "This is just a different way of using technology to gather information, and then a police officer looks at that information and determines whether a violation has occurred."

Breedlove testified against SB 714, legislation written by Senator Bob Hall that would ban any additional red light cameras and prevent cities from collecting the civil fines that fund current cameras.

"The public has expressed great opposition to the growing practice of unmanned, automatic-controlled traffic cameras," Hall said.

In February, the Arlington City Council voted to put a ban on red light cameras to a city-wide vote in the face of massive public opposition to the cameras. In Dallas, City Council member Philip Kingston pushed to dump the cameras last fall, but was rebuffed by the rest of the council.

"[Red light cameras] are based on two fallacies," Kingston said in October. "The first is that there are a bunch of people out there who intentionally run red lights. Those people almost don't exist; maybe they do exist, but it's a vanishingly small number. Then, the second fallacy is that writing a ticket would change their minds if they're that kind of person."

Kelly Canon, one of the organizers behind the drive to get red light cameras on Arlington's May ballot, said that it's clear Texas residents don't want the cameras. The Arlington vote will be a landslide she said, just like six previous votes to ditch the cameras in other cities.

The committee voted 5-0 to send Hall's bill to the full Senate with its recommendation.

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