By: Sharon Aron Baron
At last Wednesday’s City Commission meeting, it was decided that the red light camera program will be halted until further notice.
In 2012, the City of Tamarac signed a contract with American Traffic Solutions for red light cameras. The program was designed to be “cost neutral” and to “save lives” but clearly it has done neither. In fact, as we reported back in 2014, it has actually cost the city more money in additional administrative and legal costs.
But since a ruling in the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach found that the City of Hollywood could not delegate ticket-writing duties to third-party vendor American Traffic Solutions, Cities such as Pembroke Pines, Hallandale Beach, Coral Springs, Margate, and Boca Raton ended their red light camera programs. Not Tamarac, who hired an extra BSO officer to perform these duties.
Assistant City Attorney Mike Cirullo gave an update to the commission regarding the program, and informed them that they have had two adverse rulings that have affected it. “Right now we’re hard pressed to say we can prevail at any hearings.” He said their office has filed a notice of appeal with the Broward County Circuit Court.
With the contract with ATS, they have a provision that allows notice to them that there’s been a court decision that renders our program impracticable. We’re not able to enforce it on the back end because that’s what gets you payment on the front end,” – Assistant City Attorney Mike Cirullo
What this means is when a person first receives a ticket or notice of violation or NOV, they can do nothing or ask for a hearing. But according to Cirullo, the judge magistrate has been unable to prevail at the hearings. That is, until they modify the program to make it work, but this would come at a cost and be a heavier workload for BSO. For instance, Davie and Sunrise have reinstitute their programs with these modifications.
So far, over 20,000 tickets have been issued according to City Manager Michael Cernech. This money is split between ATS, the State and a third goes to the City to cover cameras and administrative costs.
The contract with ATS has 12-13 months left on it and the City is still paying them for the use of the cameras, however, the payment levels have dropped significantly since the public’s awareness of the cameras according to Cirullo.
Captain Glassman brought some of the statistics forward and said there has been some decrease in crashes and some increase.
“To be honest with you, there were mixed results. Some studies showed a decrease in crashes and some showed an increase which is to be expected because most jurisdictions noticed that people now think they’re going to jam on their brakes and they’re going to cause rear end collisions, so we’ve seen a slight increase since the cameras have been put in. But it’s been such a short period of time, so it really hasn’t been definitive, in my opinion.”
But Glassman agrees that those that run the lights are committing blatant violations.
In the end: No more red light cameras. No more American Traffic Solutions. Tamarac can join the other Cities that no longer use them.