Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

RED LIGHTS; Is Revenue There?

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

RED LIGHTS; Is Revenue There?

Article excerpt

There was a sense of excitement in the meeting on Monday.

The funding committee of The Jacksonville Journey task force heard about a new source of revenue to fight crime.

City Council President Daniel Davis has taken up the proposal of Councilman Stephen Joost that cameras be used to help assess fines for running red lights.

The proposal sounded so good in Davis' eyes, "the sky's the limit."

After all, running red lights is epidemic.

There aren't enough officers to ticket motorists at all the major intersections in Jacksonville.

By using cameras to target offenders, dangerous driving could be deterred, accidents prevented and perhaps lives saved. And the revenue can be used to deal with Jacksonville's serious murder problem.

A win-win situation? Not so fast. There are a few hurdles.

Chief among them is the belief that approval from the Florida Legislature is needed. This bill has been consistently killed in the Legislature.

One of the major opponents in the Legislature has been Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville.

King said during a meeting with the Times-Union editorial board that there have been two major objections:

1. Big Brother is watching. There is an invasion of privacy issue in cases where a continuous camera records all the activity in an intersection, he said. King would be more likely to support snapshots of license plates, instead.

2. The owner of the vehicle could be ticketed when the owner was not driving the car through the red light. There is a lack of fairness there, King said.

Meanwhile, some Florida cities already have enacted the camera-based fines, King said.

So the Legislature might follow through with a law that includes some of the safeguards that King mentioned.

That's not all. King would like all funds from the camera-based tickets to go to hospital trauma centers. …

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