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Colorado Springs, Colo., Police to Implement Speed Cameras

The Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday authorized the Police Department to implement a new camera program that will catch and fine drivers exceeding posted speed limits in certain areas.

Aerial vew of Colorado Springs, Colo., at dusk.
Colorado Springs, Colo., at Dusk
Shutterstock/Jacob Boomsma
(TNS) — The Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday authorized the Police Department to implement a new camera program that will catch and fine drivers exceeding posted speed limits in certain areas of the city.

The council voted 7-2 in favor of the system that uses radar technology to track and identify multiple speeders at once in residential areas, roadways that border parks, and in school and construction zones. Councilmen Dave Donelson and Mike O'Malley were opposed.

"This is an excellent program," Councilwoman Yolanda Avila said, adding that speeding is the No. 1 complaint she receives from residents in her district. "I think our constituents want something done. I think this is a really good step forward to work on this."

Police leadership said Tuesday the speed safety cameras will reduce traffic-related deaths and free up police resources for other priorities.

"This technology ... (gives Colorado Springs police) this ability as a force multiplier to ... give our cops out there the opportunity to do traffic enforcement on their own, while at the same time use a tool that can assist us more ... efficiently," Colorado Springs Deputy Chief Dave Edmondson said.

Speed is a leading factor in traffic injuries across El Paso County, Colorado Springs Cmdr. Pamela Castro said.

The most populous county in Colorado, El Paso in 2022 and 2023 led the state in traffic fatalities, she said. Colorado State Patrol previously reported 28% of the county's total traffic-related deaths in 2022 involved speeding.

The program is an extension of the city's current red light photo program that identifies and fines vehicles that run red lights in 20 intersections in Colorado Springs.

The Police Department plans to, in the future, contract two new vehicles equipped with special speed safety camera equipment that uses radar to track multiple lanes of traffic in one direction, and photographs and records vehicles it identifies as exceeding the speed limit.

The department will hire two new full-time civilian employees to operate the vehicles and record the violations, as Colorado law requires. Additional software will allow police staff to review, then decide whether to pursue the violation.

Under state law, speeding violations caught by the camera program are counted as civil infractions. Police can't report the violations to the DMV and no points are assessed for violations, said Shantel Withrow, the prosecution division chief in the City Attorney's Office.

When the Police Department implements the program, they must notify the public for a 30-day period. After that, there is another 30-day period during which the city will only assess warnings, and no fines, for speeding violations caught on camera.

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After the warning period ends, drivers caught speeding in residential areas and on roadways near parks will be charged a $40 fine. Travelers caught speeding in school and construction zones will be assessed an $80 fine, Withrow said.

Councilman Donelson said he was concerned about implementing a program that would not do more than fine violators.

"It's kind of like catch-and-release fishing, but there (are) no points on the license, there is no impact as far as (drivers) losing their driver's license," he said.

Councilwoman Lynette Crow-Iverson pointed out that drivers who speed in school zones and are ticketed by a police officer receive higher fines and must attend municipal court for the violation. That's compared with drivers caught speeding in school zones with radar cameras, who would receive lower fines and wouldn't be mandated to appear in municipal court if they paid the violation.

Police officials and Withrow said overall, the program will discourage violators from speeding. It can identify more speeders at one time than an individual police officer would be able to identify and ticket.

"That is the trade-off," Withrow said.

Police officials could not yet estimate the potential cost of the program, saying they are still in the contracting process.

In 2023, Colorado Springs' red light photo program received approximately $2.2 million in revenue, compared to its contract cost of about $1.1 million, Withrow said. The speed safety camera program would be an additional cost added to the red light photo program, but she and police officials expect it will be "cost neutral," not costing the city out-of-pocket, Withrow said.

Springs police said they reached out to Aurora police after that city announced it would end its speed safety camera program because it cost Aurora more than $610,000 but brought in only about $75,500 in revenue as of March 2024, about a year after that city unveiled the program, CBS News reported this month.

Local police wanted to understand why the program was not effective in Aurora, but received no response, Edmondson said.

"I'd go with other programs in the state, such as in Fort Collins and Denver, that have shown (the speed cameras) to be effective," Edmondson said.

Aurora police blamed several technical issues for the revenue shortfall during the pilot program, according to CBS News.

The council must vote a second time on the item. That vote is expected at the next regular meeting May 14.

© 2024 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.