Mayor proposing red-light cameras be staple in Baton Rouge through 2023

Mayor, council spar over contract on red=light cameras

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The City-Parish of Baton Rouge wants to sign a new agreement to continue to keep an eye on your driving habits, to see if you’re running traffic lights.

However, one councilman is asking other officials to pump the brakes before committing to anything.

Depending on who you talk to, the cameras are either a pain or part of public safety.

“No, I’m not a fan at all of the red-light cameras,” said Shantelle Perkins, a Baton Rouge resident.

Believe it or not, those sometimes pesky red-light cameras have been a staple in East Baton Rouge Parish for more than a decade now.

“I wouldn’t mind having red-light cameras around if they actually seemed to do anything. People blow through red lights here like crazy,” said Christie Lauder, who frequently drives around Baton Rouge to get to class. And now, they could be staying for a lot longer.

“The 4-year contract will allow us to reduce our costs for collections and be able to allow us to get newer equipment,” said Darryl Gissel, Chief Administrative Officer for the City-Parish of Baton Rouge.

Gissel says the main priority is public safety, and now the Baton Rouge Police Department has the technology to tie into the cameras if need be. And it wouldn’t be an extra cost to the parish.

“The city would retain basically 70% of the fine. So with a new contract for a longer period, we can reduce what the cost is from the vendor,” said Gissel. “A year ago [the Metro Council] had a vote to do it one year at a time,” said Metro Councilman Matt Watson, of District 11.

Watson is adamantly against giving a new 4-year contract to the ‘Verra Mobility’ company, saying it’s not what the council agreed upon last year.

“When you’ve got significant millions of dollars that go to Ohio or Arizona, never to come back in our economy, that troubles me,” said Watson.

Gissel says around 70% of the money made from the tickets is set to go back to the parish’s general fund account.

He says the city puts the cameras up at places where drivers most frequently run red lights.

“Every ticket that’s issued, the video is monitored or reviewed by a police officer before the ticket’s issue,” said Gissel.

“If we could make sure that that money goes to pay the police force for the dangerous jobs they do serving everyone in our community every day, that would get [red light cameras] a little more support,” said Watson.

The Mayor’s administration says the move is all about public safety and no extra costs to the parish.

The item goes up for discussion at the next council meeting, on November 13.

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