From the tone of the City Commissioners at this morning’s agenda meetings, it appears Lakeland will soon have red light cameras.
The company Lakeland choose to install the cameras, American Traffic Solutions, presented the commissioners with the results of this week’s testing. Various city intersections were watched for an eight hour period each. The numbers of red light runners were:
51 – Northbound South Florida Ave. at North Parkway Frontage Road
40 – Southbound North Florida Ave. at Memorial Blvd.
33 – Eastbound Memorial Blvd at North Florida Ave.
32 – Westbound Memorial Blvd. at North Florida Ave.
31 – Northbound North Florida Ave. at Memorial Blvd
17 – Southbound South Florida Ave. at Polk Parkway Off Ramp East
Those numbers indicate the top six violation locations. Of course, none of the violations were checked by Lakeland Police Department officers. The test simply indicated the number of violations that ATS would send to LPD to be checked. Officers will have the option to reject violations for a number of reasons.
The commissioners heard a short presentation by ATSVP Greg Parks. They took the opportunity to ask Parks a number of questions about the cameras. Discussion included procedures, privacy issues, possible state laws, and the ATS contract.
The contract isn’t final at this moment, but city attorney Palmer Davis will have the final draft to the commissioners this afternoon. Commissioners were assured that the contract will state that the city will pay no capital expenditures to install or maintain the cameras.
The process is a simple one. Intersection cameras record 24 hours a day. The ATS software automatically flags all possible red light violations. Video and still images of the rear of the car are saved for each possible violation. LPD officers view only those possible violations as flagged by ATS. LPD is responsible for actually approving or rejecting violations. Lt Mike Link, of LPD Traffic Operations, noted that his officers will all receive training to use the ATS software. The officers will then work shifts on the software.
Only after an officer determines a violation has been committed, will ATS mail a citation to the owner of the vehicle running the red light. Owners can appeal the citation to a city code enforcement hearing officer, and to the courts if they reject the hearing officers findings. The video of the event is available to car owners when they receive the citation. Parks reported cities find very few car owners ever protest the citations after viewing the video.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll have more on red light cameras and how they’ll work in Lakeland.