Des Plaines alderman wants to scrap red-light cameras

A Des Plaines city council member wants to remove the red-light cameras that have been in place at Golf and Rand roads for more than a decade.

Fifth Ward Alderman Carla Brookman believes no-turn-on-red signs that went up at the intersection in 2017 are doing a better job of preventing crashes than the cameras, which were installed in 2010.

The cameras observe cars headed east and west on Golf Road and those turning onto Rand. Proponents hoped the cameras would reduce accidents at the busy intersection.

But the number of crashes and tickets there has dropped dramatically only since the signs were installed.

According to a recent memo from Police Chief Dave Anderson, the number of crashes at the intersection dropped from 14 to 9 in 2018, the first full year the no-turn signs were in place. More recent data wasn't available.

It was the first year the crash total was a single-digit figure since 2012, the memo indicated.

Additionally, fewer than 6,300 tickets have been issued there based on camera evidence in each of the last three years, compared with more than 10,700 such tickets in 2017.

"The ticket results show that violations of improper right turns on red can be reduced without issuing tickets," Brookman said.

The revenue from tickets issued based on evidence from the cameras has decreased, too.

The sum dropped from more than $673,000 in 2017 to less than $478,900 in 2018, and it dropped even more in 2019 and 2020, according to the memo.

About half the money collected from such fines goes to the vendor, Lombard-based RedSpeed Illinois, to cover service fees, camera leasing and maintenance.

Brookman opposes keeping the cameras simply as a cash grab.

"We shouldn't be using a red-light camera as a source of revenue," she said.

Brookman had planned to start a debate about the cameras during Monday's city council meeting, but she pulled the issue from the agenda because she wants additional information, including a copy of the contract with RedSpeed.

Brookman's husband, former Alderman Jim Brookman, opposed red-light cameras when he was on the council. Carla Brookman replaced her husband on the council in 2017. She is up for reelection this April and is being challenged by Jennifer Nutley.

Nutley believes the cameras should stay, saying they scare people into slowing down.

She also questioned how the city - already struggling with a $10 million budget deficit because of the COVID-19 crisis - would replace the lost revenue if the cameras are removed.

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