In the middle of March, Redflex spokesman Michael Cavailoa said the removal of red-light cameras in Killeen wasn’t a done deal, despite a 3-2 City Council consensus to not renew the contract. A month later, it’s now a done deal.
The red-light cameras at several intersections throughout the city will be deactivated at midnight Sunday, according to Hilary Shine, the city’s director of public information. The equipment will be removed by Sept. 30 by Redflex at no cost to the city.
The vote to not renew the contract was a narrow one, as two councilmen — Gregory Johnson and Juan Rivera — were both absent from the workshop meeting in which a consensus was taken. Mayor Jose Segarra said if either told him their vote would have changed the outcome, he’d call for another.
That never happened.
The cameras take photos of cars that run red lights, and a $75 ticket is issued to the registered owner. As part of the contract, the city and Redflex had been splitting the revenue.
The cameras brought in $302,208 for the city in 2016 after it paid the state and Redflex their shares of the money from red-light tickets.
In 2015, the city received $390,733.70. From 2010 to 2014, the cameras generated $1.4 million. With city finances under a microscope and a police department facing decreased funding, it won’t be easy to replace that revenue.
Councilman Dick Young opposed red-light cameras in 2007 when the contract was first brought up, and he still is opposed to this day.
“You don’t know you’ve broken a law; it didn’t change your behavior for weeks,” Young said in a February interview. “When you get stopped (by a police officer), it immediately changed your behavior. We control the length of time that those lights are on red. I would much rather see us extend the time on red in all directions.”
Since the cameras were implemented, the city saw a decrease in accidents by nearly 1,000, according to interim Police Chief Margaret Young. In an email exchange in March, Young said she feared the lack of the cameras could keep officers preoccupied with motorists, rather than dealing with other crime.
The cameras received a fair amount of public opposition both locally and statewide. Brett Pritchard, a local attorney, filed a lawsuit in March that questioned the constitutionality of the cameras.
He received a ticket in the mail, but wasn’t driving the car at the time it was issued. For most other citations, like a speeding ticket or a lane violation, whoever drove the car would have gotten the citation.
Pritchard said red-light camera tickets should be handled the same way.
“How do you confront a camera?” he said in a March interview with the Herald.