Baton Rouge extends contract for red light cameras

Published: Oct. 10, 2013 at 2:46 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge Metro Council members listened to testimony from a number of emergency response and law enforcement experts Wednesday, all with the same message.

"So we can put those officers out into the community and let technology take care of the intersections," said former Baton Rouge Police Chief Jeff LeDuff.

"If we can find something to deter any type of harm to our citizens we're better off," said Baton Rouge Fire Chief Ed Smith.

Some of that public sentiment was echoed by members of the council, who say if a camera can prevent any reckless driving, then they are worth using.

"I absolutely think if we save one life as a result of cameras then we're doing a great service," said Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel.

Others like Councilman Buddy Amoroso questioned the effectiveness of the traffic camera program citing a figure of more than 59,000 unpaid tickets. He adds people don't pay the fine because there is no penalty for not doing so.

"Why are these returns diminishing? Why do people just quit paying these tickets? There's an easy reason for that. Why?" asked Amoroso. "It's because payment is optional."

In the end, the motion to extend the traffic camera contract received more support than opposition.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie admits there may be some who choose not to pay the fine for a camera violation but adds the program was never about making money.

"I can put officers at intersections but they're only there for a short time and they're only enforcing while they're there. The red light camera catches 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So it's a fair program for everybody involved and it's safety," said Dabadie.

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