WATERLOO — City Council members have signaled their support for automated traffic cameras to cite motorists who run red lights and speed.
Waterloo Safety Services Director Dan Trelka laid out his request Monday to install enforcement cameras at high-crash intersections and asked council members if they would support those plans.
All six councilmen at the work session nodded in support, while Councilman Bruce Jacobs was absent.
Trelka sought proposals from two companies that install and operate the cameras for a 30 to 40 percent cut of the citation revenue, settling on Gatso USA, which also operates red light and speed cameras in Cedar Rapids.
There are 13 intersections in Waterloo with high crash rates tied to red light violations, and Trelka said he initially would like to put cameras at six. Portable speed cameras could be employed in the future at certain locations.
“I only want to use this tool where I can articulate and prove we have an issue with driving,” Trelka said. “Tools like this should only be used in areas where there’s justification for using those tools.
“It does make communities safer,” he added. “So I think it is a good tool for our community.”
Council members would need to approve an ordinance authorizing the use of the cameras; approve a contract with Gatso USA or another provider to install and operate them; and set fines and thresholds for citations.
Trelka suggested $60 to $70 fines for violations, with any revenue used for property tax relief or hiring more police officers.
“These citations don’t go on your driving record, but they do provide a punitive penalty for people who are speeding,” he added.
Councilman Steve Schmitt said he liked the idea of putting up speed cameras in places with schools or high pedestrian activity, noting residents on Downing Avenue have broached the idea before.
“I just think that to pay a police officer … to sit there and hold a radar gun, in this day and age with the technology we’ve got, I just think that’s a real poor decision,” Schmitt said.
The use of automated traffic enforcement cameras have been polarizing across the state. Iowa legislators rejected a bill this year which would have banned the devices.