Tampa to decide whether to renew their red light camera program

City council may vote Thursday

Earlier this month, St. Petersburg decided to take down its red light cameras. 

Now Tampa city leaders are deciding whether to do the same.
 
Tampa Police Department released video Tuesday from some of those cameras. One shows a car blowing through a red light and t-boning another vehicle. Another video shows a car going through a red light and plowing into a bicyclist.
 
"We're for them because they have reduced crashes and therefore reduced injury and property damage in the city of Tampa," Tampa Police chief Jane Castor said. 
 
The department plans to encourage city council members to vote to extend the city’s contract with American Traffic Solutions through 2016 at the council’s meeting Thursday.
 
"We're just going to educate the council on the progress that we have made and the benefit of these cameras," Castor said.
 
When the cameras first appeared around Tampa they were placed at 14 different intersections. According to police, accidents dropped by 11 percent. Within a year crashes had dropped by 33 percent.
 
Forty-two cameras now record intersections around Tampa and officials say they're changing driving behavior. 
 
"People stop for red lights in the city of Tampa now," Castor said.
 
From 2012 to 2013 citations dropped 15 percent. That led to a drop in revenue as well. A drop in revenue is one reason St. Petersburg leaders decided to get rid of the cameras, but that doesn't seem to be the case in Tampa. 
 
Council members Charlie Miranda and Yvonne Capin said they would like to see revenue from the cameras go to improving safety, not the city’s general fund.
 
"The money is not going to additional intersection improvements therefore I can't support what I want to support," Miranda said.
 
Until that happens they will not support the cameras.
 
The council voted 4-3 when they first approved the program and it looks like another close vote may be shaping up. 
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