City to double number of speed-detection vans, drop cameras - Albuquerque Journal

City to double number of speed-detection vans, drop cameras

A red-light camera at the Southern and Unser intersection in Rio Rancho. The cameras were shut off earlier this year. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)
A red-light camera at the Southern and Unser intersection in Rio Rancho. The cameras were shut off earlier this year. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

The red-light cameras are gone, but Rio Rancho plans to double the number of speed-detection vans it uses to monitor traffic.

The city’s Safe Traffic Operations Program, or STOP, resumes Monday after city councilors agreed this week to renew their contract with the Redflex Traffic System.

Councilors voted 5-1 in favor of a new contract continuing the city’s relationship with Redflex during Wednesday’s regular governing body meeting. District 5 councilor Jennifer Flor was the lone vote against the contract.

The new contract eliminates STOP’s previous red-light camera program and will increase the number of speed-detection vans from four to eight. Four speed-detection vehicles will begin monitoring traffic on Monday and will issue warnings, not citations, during the program’s next 30 days. After the 30-day warning period, citations will be issued.

According to city spokeswoman Annemarie García, the additional four speed-detection vans will be ordered, outfitted and placed throughout the city in the next few months.

According to the contract, Redflex will receive $40 for each citation for the first 100 vehicles per month; $35 for vehicles 101 to 150; and $25 for vehicles 151 and more. The state and the city will split the remaining revenue, with 100 percent of the city’s revenue directed to a fund to acquire new police vehicles.

The deal includes a four-year agreement with the city and Redflex, with the option to renew the contract for an additional four years. According to García, the contract is worth over $500,000 in projected revenue over the next four years.

Before the governing body meeting, a small group of protestors carried signs and protested against the Redflex contract outside City Hall. Christopher Muldrow, who spoke during the protest and the city council meeting, said traffic citations should be issued by police officers and not from a stationed speed-monitoring vehicle.

“Let’s get some human beings a job; let’s hire more police officers. There’s a right way to do it and this isn’t the right way,” he said.

Muldrow questioned how effective the Redflex program will be.

“You see it time and time again, the majority of people do not pay these programs, it’s not deterring people,” Muldrow said. “When you get pulled over by an officer, when you pull back on the road, you stop speeding. When people get hit with this, a lot of the time they don’t even know it; they keep speeding down the road.”

Councilor Cheryl Everett, who vocally supported the contract, said she didn’t understand complaints that drivers couldn’t appeal the citation.

“The issue of being able to face your accuser is raised,” Everett said. “It’s funny, I didn’t hear that raised when a video camera caught the two Boston Marathon bombers and the police were able to track them down. I didn’t hear of any violations of anybody’s rights in that instance.”

Rio Rancho’s red-light cameras – which were operated at two intersections on Unser Boulevard – and unmanned speed detection vans were shut off at the start of the year after the governing body voted late last year not to extend the city’s existing contract with Redflex. The new contract was subsequently worked out.

In other business: The governing body unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance that would establish a program to help assist residents that live within the poverty line pay their water bills.

The program would be available for residents who are living within 133 percent of the poverty line as calculated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources. Program recipients would receive 30 percent in assistance of the total utility bill each month for a maximum of three consecutive months. Eligible residents can reapply to the program, with a lifetime maximum of 12 months of available service.

The assistance program will be funded through private monetary donations only. By Sept. 15, the city will review whether enough money has been collected for the program. If sufficient funds are found, the program will be established by Nov. 1.

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