Sunday, February 4, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Red light camera citations in Maywood increased around 70 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to data released by the Maywood Police Department last month.
Last year, police issued more citations than at any point since at least 2013, data shows, even though the village decreased the number of cameras from nine to five two years ago.
During a regular meeting on Jan. 16, Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley said that the village relocated red light cameras to the most hazardous intersections in the village.
A 5-year comparison of red light camera enforcement in Maywood. | Graphic: Village Free Press. Data: Maywood Police Department
“We took the cameras down from nine to five and placed them in areas that were public safety hazards,” Talley said. “That wasn’t part of the original configuration.”
In 2016, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted 5 to 1 in favor of the reduction, which village officials believed at the time would allow them to cut the cameras’ operating costs and realize some revenue gains from the technology.
Talley said at the time that he recommended that the village reduce the number of red light cameras because they weren’t generating any ticket revenue of their own and several of the cameras were installed in places where they weren’t particularly useful.
The cameras are part of an automatic traffic law enforcement system operated and maintained by American Traffic Solutions, a private firm based in Mesa, Arizona that has contracts with hundreds of municipalities across the country to provide various traffic safety services and technologies.
In 2016, Maywood police issued 4,445 red light citations while they issued 7,539 in 2017. Roughly half of the citations issued for each year were paid.
In 2017, police brought in around $255,000 in revenue from red light camera enforcement — the second-largest source of revenue behind parking tickets, which generated around $307,000 last year.
In 2016, the village negotiated a 4-year contract with ATS that wiped out a negative $250,000 operating balance and readjusted the monthly payments for the cameras from around $5,000 a month per camera to $4,200 a month per camera.
That means the village needs to clear at least $252,000 (not including legal fees related to administrative hearings for the citations) in order to start realizing a return from the cameras.
The largest increase in citations were from cameras positioned eastbound on St. Charles Rd. and South 9th Ave.; southbound on south 1st Ave. and Harrison St.; and southbound and northbound on 1st Ave. and Washington Blvd. (both of these cameras are new).
A map of red light cameras in Maywood, accompanied by graphs depicting the year-over-year change in the number of citations issued by those cameras. | Image: Village Free Press. Data: Maywood Police Department
The camera at south 1st Ave. and Harrison issued 1,229, 1,665 and 2,902 citations in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively — a 136 percent increase from 2015 to 2017.
The camera positioned eastbound at St. Charles Rd. and south 9th Ave. issued 745, 399 and 788 citations in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively — a 97 percent increase from 2016 to 2017.
The two new cameras positioned southbound and northbound at 1st Ave. and Washington Blvd. issued 1,222 and 1,729 citations, respectively, in 2017.
During the Jan. 16 meeting, Talley played traffic camera footage that showed a close collision at 1st Ave. and Chicago Ave., which Talley described as “a very hazardous” intersection.
Talley said that the dangerous intersection was one reason the department purchased a speed reading device in July. VFP
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