St. Louis County councilmen want to prevent red-light cameras from making a return

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Red-light cameras haven’t been used in the St. Louis metropolitan area since 2013. St. Louis County Councilman Mark Harder says new facial racial recognition technology may give people ideas about using them again.

“There are some vendors and municipalities out there that think they can get around the Supreme Court policy on red-light cameras by using that technology,” he said.

Harder and fellow councilman Tim Fitch want to put a stop to the cameras once and for all. They introduced a bill at Tuesday night’s council meeting that would let county residents vote on cameras.

“It would be voting ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ for or against red-light cameras, and that would be on the ballot in November if it passes our council,” Harder said.

In the three years that the cameras were used on Clarkson leading to Manchester Road—a stretch of road about a mile-and-a-half long—the City of Ellisville made around $215,000 a year.

The cameras were shut down in 2014 after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional.

“Basically, (the court) said you can’t put fines on cars. You have to put fines on people,” Harder said. “People have to be recognized since they are the ones being fined.”

Harder added the cameras affect those who could least afford tickets.

“This is a preventative to see what would work in certain jurisdictions,” he said. “We hope folks in St. Louis County will vote against red-light cameras in November.”

Councilman Harder said there’s talk that the issue will be discussed in Jefferson City during the 2020 Missouri legislative session to do away with the cameras statewide.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar commended the introduction of the legislation. He believes the use of traffic light cameras isn't in the interest of public safety and can have a disparate impact on low-income communities.

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