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Web Exclusive: Lawmakers Hoping To Resurrect Photo Cops

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Photo cops at intersections haven’t been in use for seven years.

That’s when a Hennepin County judge ruled that citations issued from red light cameras still could not prove who was driving the car.

But a group of lawmakers is hoping to once again bring the cameras back.

During the 8 months photo cop was on duty, it captured a lot. It captured many cars running red lights. Some 26,000 vehicle owners received tickets in the mail during that 8-month span.

“We are believers in this technology,” said Rep. Alice Hausman (D-St. Paul).

Hausman is behind an initiative to try and bring photo cop back. She says when the cameras were working accidents were reduced by 20 percent.

“All of the evidence shows that there is a huge decrease in death and injury, and if you put in at least two cameras in a city there is a better adherence to the law at many of the other intersections in the city,” Hausman said.

Hausman’s bill would give cities the option of using the technology to photograph and ticket red light runners. But during a hearing in the House Transportation Policy Committee, the bill hit a red light of its own as committee members decided not to vote immediately.

Opponents argue the bill is more about raising revenues than saving lives. And they say if a police officer gives you a ticket, at least you have a chance to make an argument.

“But they are there to do a job and to interact with the public. Putting  a camera in an intersection is something that involves a private company — and I’m a private enterprise guy, don’t get me wrong — but this involves law enforcement, and that’s different,” said Rep. Mike Beard (R-Shakopee).

Beard said he’s against photo cop, but all for public safety. He thinks other options, such as longer yellow lights, are better.

“There’s more things like that we could do before we take this step, in my opinion, that would make signalized intersections even safer than they are,” said Beard.

Right now, 25 states and over 500 cities across the country use photo cop.

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