Jefferson County Council Considers Red Light Camera Ban
Jefferson County Councilman Bob Boyer, of Arnold, the first city in Missouri to install the traffic cameras, introduced the measure Monday.
Arnold's representative on the new Jefferson County Council is taking aim on the red light cameras that his city installed in 2005.
“The changes to the traffic code were run through like an auction house,” said Bob Boyer, new Third District representative on the Jefferson County Council. “I’m seeking a prohibition on the use of red light cameras.”
On Monday a measure to repeal an law granting the county permission from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to install red light traffic cameras was introduced by Boyer at the Jefferson County Council meeting.
The original ordinance was approved by the former three-member council, which was eliminated Jan. 1 and replaced by a new seven-member council as part of the county’s new form of charter government approved by voters in 2008. The council had approved the MoDOT ordinance on a consent vote at an Oct. 20. meeting.
Subsequently, the agreement between the county and MoDOT was returned unsigned due to a moratorium placed on the installation of new traffic cameras by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The commission had suspended new installations based on reports that some communities were using the cameras to generate revenue as opposed to enforcing public safety. The ban has since been lifted and new guidelines have been put in place.
Boyer's measure was approved on a 6-to-0 vote of the council Monday. Fifth District Councilwoman Teresa Kreitler was absent from the meeting.
Boyer and First District Councilman Don Bickowski, of High Ridge, said the public was not given ample opportunity to comment on use of the cameras in the county by the former council.
“I attended all three public hearings, and they weren’t really public hearings,” Bickowski said. “We really need to have more open discussion on the subject.”
In order to allow for the use of red light traffic cameras in the county, the former council had to amend the county’s traffic code. Three public hearings on the changes were held Oct. 20, Oct. 26 and Nov. 1. According to council minutes, the hearings yielded few comments from those in attendance, and the traffic code amendment ordinance was approved Nov. 1.
In addition to considering the repeal on the MoDOT measure, the new council plans to introduce a measure at its next meeting that would repeal the changes the former council made to the traffic code. Public hearings on that measure have been scheduled for the council’s next three meetings - Feb. 14, Feb. 28 and March 14.
Boyer is openly opposed to the use of red light cameras. Arnold was the first city in the region to begin using the red light cameras in 2005. In fact, Boyer and Matt Hay, another former Arnold councilman, have formed a non-partisan group called WrongOnRed, which seeks a statewide ban on the use of red light cameras. The group contends the use of the cameras deny an individual’s constitutional right to due process in court and that political subdivisions use the cameras solely to generate revenue.
Chuck Banks, a former county councilman, said in an interview that he wasn’t surprised by the council’s action on the MoDOT measure.
“It seemed to be Bob’s single goal to do this,” Banks said referring to Boyer’s goal to ban the use of the cameras. “It is what it is.”
Correction: Bob Boyer's never served as an Arnold city council member. His election to the Jefferson County Council is his first time in public office. An earlier version of the article incorrectly stated otherwise.