Sarasota votes ‘yes’ for more red light cameras

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Red light cameras are a major money-maker for the City of Sarasota, and the initiative got a major boost last week.

The Sarasota City Commission approved 3-2 a contract for red light cameras at 10 intersections within the city limits.

Commissioners Hagen Brody and Jen Ahearn-Koch voted against the proposal, with Brody opposed to the police department’s desire to collect data on drivers using License Plate Recognition technology. Brody said that the surveillance makes him uncomfortable and added that the information ultimately becomes a public record that anyone can request and obtain.

Sarasota Police Department Detective John Lake said that the Police Department would not collect the data 24 hours a day, and would purge the monitoring information every three years.

The License Plate Recognition technology is distinct from the red light cameras and is an additional add-on the Police Department wanted.

Some municipalities use if following crimes to help investigations. Other uses include Silver and Amber Alerts where the police can use the information to locate missing individuals.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) does not allow License Plate Recognition technology at intersections, said Lake. The Sarasota Police wanted to use it at six of the 10 intersections where the red light cameras would be installed.

Following Brody’s arguments, the City agreed to the red light camera contract, but denied the request for the License Plate Recognition technology.

The City Commission first allowed red light cameras in 2010, and the Police Department’s revenue from red light ticket violations amounted to more than $1 million in 2017, with expenses of only $163,750.

The more than $840,000 in profit went into the City’s General Fund.

The supporting material in the agenda for the Commission Meeting claims that red light cameras save lives, but only one source of data was presented. The research methodology and the statistical analysis to arrive at these conclusions have been debated, and most cities have abandoned red light camera programs.

The Town of Longboat Key uses License Plate Recognition technology and it tracks each vehicle that heads on or off the island.

It was Commissioner Willie Shaw who voiced the formal motion to approve the contract minus the License Plate Recognition technology.

The City of Sarasota after this contract, will have a total of 20 red light cameras each capable of covering up to seven lanes of traffic. The cameras will be located at the following intersections:

• Tuttle and Bahia Vista

• Fruitville and Tuttle

• Fruitville and Beneva Rd.

• Fruitville and N. Lockwood Ridge Rd.

• N. Washington and Fruitville

• N. Washington and 17th Street

• U.S. 41 and University Parkway

• U.S. 41 and Siesta Drive

• U.S. 41 and Bee Ridge

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1 Response for “Sarasota votes ‘yes’ for more red light cameras”

  1. Notice there is not even one mention of safety for red light cameras. They are a 100% predatory for-profit money-grab scam that literally steals money from mostly safe drivers to feed the insatiable need for money for the state (52.5% of the total loot), the for-profit camera companies, and the for-profit city business partners. At least two of the annual reports show increased crashes at camera intersections, but causing more crashes doesn’t bother the state, the for-profit camera companies, or the for-profit city business partners. All that matters is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

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