Hancock, other mayors urge state lawmakers to kill red light camera ban
DENVER — Mayor Michael Hancock and a group of Colorado mayors are urging the legislature to kill a proposal that would ban red light cameras and photo radar vans statewide, which is up for a hearing at the Capitol Monday afternoon.
“I hate to see lawmakers playing politics with public safety,” Hancock told FOX31 Denver Monday morning during an interview in his office.
“The reality is this is about safety first. It’s not about Big Brother watching anyone, it’s not about revenue. We’ve seen great results from these cameras in terms of reducing crashes and it’s allowed us to deploy our law enforcement resources more effectively.”
According to Hancock, crashes at the busy intersection of 6th Avenue and Speer Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue have dropped by 40 percent since the red light cameras were installed there.
Hancock has spoken to Gov. John Hickenlooper, his predecessor in the mayor’s office, about his concerns and has been actively lobbying the bill behind the scenes; but he’d not spoken much publicly about his opposition to the proposal until sitting down Monday with FOX31 Denver.
He’s also one of nine metro area mayors who signed a letter the Colorado Municipal League sent to lawmakers on Friday urging them to kill Senate Bill 181.
“At a time when we have deepening concerns over hit and run drivers, impaired drivers, and traffic calming in neighborhoods, it makes no sense to eliminate a law enforcement tool that has increased traffic law compliance and reduced accidents,” the letter begins.
“Reducing the ability to enforce red light and speeding laws sends the wrong message to the public.”
It may be an uphill climb for the mayors and police chiefs to slow down S.B. 181, which passed the full Senate last week with bipartisan support and is being carried in the House by Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver and Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland.
Supporters of the bill argue that the cameras are more about generating revenue from tickets than increasing public safety and that they violate the privacy of drivers. They’ve said that lengthening the duration of yellow lights at busy intersections would do just as much to improve safety than using the cameras to write tickets.
Hancock, who admitted he’s received his share of those tickets in the mail, hoped that lawmakers would listen not just to this group of mayors when the bill is heard by the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee Monday afternoon — but also to members of the public who believe the cameras are critical to their safety.
“Our disabled community, our aging community — people who it takes longer to get across the street have talked about the importance of these radars,” Hancock said. “I hope that lawmakers will listen to the people who come to speak to them from outside of the Capitol.”
The committee hearing gets underway at 1:30 p.m. Monday.