Louisiana Parish Council to Vote on Camera Program

May 15, 2012

The Lafayette City-Parish Council is set to vote today on whether to do away with the city’s traffic camera enforcement program.

But even if it’s kept alive, some council members are pushing for changes in the scope of the program and how it is managed.

The Advocate reports Councilmen Jared Bellard, Andy Naquin and William Theriot have proposed ending the automated enforcement program, which began in 2007 and is touted by supporters as a critical tool to improve driver behavior.

Opponents dispute some of the safety claims and argue that the enforcement program’s main goal is to raise money for city-parish government.

The cameras snap photos of a driver and license plate when a vehicle speeds through a monitored intersection or runs a red light. The alleged violator is mailed a citation.

The program also employs two “speed vans,” vehicles equipped with radar and cameras that are dispatched throughout the city.

Beyond the three council members who have pushed the repeal, none of the other councilmen has made any public calls for the cameras to come down.

But even council members who say they will likely vote to keep the traffic cameras clicking have raised questions.

“I was never really in favor of the program, but it seems to have proved itself, I guess,” said Councilman Jay Castille.

Castille, though not an enthusiastic supporter, said he is leaning toward supporting the traffic camera program but will seek changes in its operation.

Castille said he wants to move the management of the traffic cameras from the city’s Traffic and Transportation Department to the Police Department, reasoning that police should oversee public safety programs.

The councilman also said he wants to limit the use of the speed vans to school zones and residential neighborhoods – banning the vans from major thoroughfares – and to limit the expansion of the traffic camera program in future years.

There are now 12 intersections in the city that are monitored by traffic cameras, but another 17 locations are being considered.

Theriot, Bellard and Naquin all said that, assuming the traffic program is kept in place, they will also push for changes.

All three said they would like to see the contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, the private company that manages the camera program, come back to the council for renewal each year.

A proposed contract renewal with Redflex has a four-year term.

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