Last June, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law a bill allowing law enforcement to use Automated Vehicle Identification Systems (AVIS), including speed cameras, around the state. Prior to the governor’s signature, speed cameras were only allowed in residential neighborhoods, within construction zones, or along streets that border parks.
Additionally, the new law removed the requirement that a police officer must be present when the cameras are operated.
In Colorado Springs, we already have a Red Light Safety Camera Program operated by the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD). It’s a profitable program, for sure. Since 2019, Colorado Springs residents have paid around $5.9 million in fines from cameras at 20 intersections. Over 71% of those ticketed pay the $75 fine.
Up until June 2023, there were no consequences for not paying the fine. You had to be served the ticket in person. Now, the new law says that if the ticket isn’t paid within 30 days of it being mailed to you, the $75 fine may include late fees and may be added to your credit report. There’s been no proof of the program’s effectiveness in doing anything other than filling city coffers.
We had a recent tip from a concerned citizen about Colorado Springs implementing a “Speed Camera Safety Program.” According to the tip, CSPD is planning to have speed camera vehicles deployed throughout the city for photo speed enforcement. CSPD has briefed a handful of citizens about the program in order to get buy-in.
Initially, a driver receives a warning for the first speed violation. A second speed violation results in a $75 ticket mailed to the vehicle owner. There are no points deducted against one’s driver’s license. Our tipster says CSPD reassured citizens that “the intent” of the program is not to ticket anyone going less than 10 mph over the speed limit.
We certainly don’t feel reassured. Who is to say that they won’t fine someone barely driving 1 mph over the speed limit?
We asked CSPD for comment about the program. Initially, they didn’t admit or deny the existence of the Speed Camera Safety Program. CSPD Public Relations Manager Ira Cronin replied to our request:
“Right now, what I can tell you is we are always looking to improve traffic safety and are considering many new options that are within our traffic safety strategy, but I don’t have any comment at this time on any specific new option we are considering.
Our traffic safety strategy is: We strive to improve traffic safety in the community by increasing voluntary compliance with laws and best driving practices. We do this through education, communication, collaboration, and enforcement, including leveraging technology in ways that improve the safety of community members throughout Colorado Springs”.
We knew CSPD had documents from a mid-January presentation about the Speed Camera Safety Program. We asked for those specific documents through a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request. CSPD hasn’t released any documents regarding the Speed Camera Safety Program as of publication time.
Mr. Cronin, however, responded to our 2nd request for information:
“The Colorado Springs Police Department (“CSPD”) has received your records request dated 1/30/2024, and it is under review. The records you have requested are considered criminal justice records as defined in Colorado Revised Statute § 24-72-302(4) which are held in the sole possession of CSPD, a law enforcement agency. The Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act (“CCJRA”) as codified in C.R.S. § 24-72-301 et. seq. governs the release of criminal justice records. The time response deadlines contained within CORA do not apply to requests for criminal justice records governed by the CCJRA.
The information you are seeking is part of a working document that is fluid and won’t be finalized until it is presented to city council, which at my last check is scheduled to happen on February 26th but that date could be subject to change”.
Mr. Cronin’s response all but confirms the existence of the Speed Camera Safety Program.
Based on the response from Mr. Cronin, CSPD is likely planning to brief the Colorado Springs City Council on February 26th on the Speed Camera Safety Program and ask for the funds. Our tipster reports it’s going to cost taxpayers around $500,000 to get the program off the ground.
Drivers who disobey traffic laws scare us, too. It’s natural to want them to be punished. Cameras aren’t the answer, though. If a driver is racing through the streets without regard for your safety, there is a strong possibility the driver doesn’t care about a $75 fine, they won’t pay it, and we assume they won’t care if it goes on a credit report. Cameras won’t make us safer.
Cameras are reactive policing. Live police patrols are proactive policing. Our taxpayer money funds CSPD. Traffic enforcement is one of their very basic jobs. CSPD should be proactively policing our streets and be a presence in our community. We deserve better than cameras on every street corner. This is all too “big brother” for us.
Reach out to the mayor and city council members to share your thoughts. Or, watch for our announcement confirming the date of the CSPD presentation to the City Council, where you can then voice your opinions in person.
Mayor Yemi Mobolade email@example.com
Yolanda Avila Yolanda.Avila@coloradosprings.gov
Lynette Crow-Iverson firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Donelson Dave.Donelson@coloradosprings.gov
Randy Helms Randy.Helms@coloradosprings.gov
Nancy Henjum Nancy.Henjum@coloradosprings.gov
David Leinweber email@example.com
Mike O’Malley Mike.OMalley@coloradosprings.gov
Brian Risley firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Talarico email@example.com