Plainfield mayor, Rockdale police chief say red-light cameras reduced crashes

Rockdale police chief says devices help reduce crashes, solve crimes

1 of 4

Two state lawmakers have proposed legislation to ban red-light cameras, but the Plainfield mayor and Rockdale police chief said the devices have helped reduce car crashes in their towns.

Rockdale Police Chief Robert Dykstra said the red-light camera at South Larkin and Moen avenues has even helped his department solve an armed robbery. Dykstra said the camera managed to capture a photo of a suspected robber running across a street at the time a vehicle failed to heed a red light.

“It’s an all-encompassing tool for us to use,” Dykstra said.

For Plainfield Mayor Michael Collins, the red-light camera at 135th Street and Route 59 is a “needed item” that has reduced car crashes at the intersection.

“I wish we had more. I’m not concerned about the revenue so much as safety for the public,” Collins said.

Red-light cameras have come under fire by state Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, and state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Cary, who have proposed bills that largely seek to ban red-light cameras.

McSweeney's bill would ban the cameras in non-home rule communities, which would not affect Rockdale or Plainfield, but Hunter's bill would ban them altogether.

Hunter said in a statement that red-light camera programs have "been sustained and expanded by corruption."

“Traffic laws should be driven by safety, not bribery, shakedowns or the need to boost revenue,” she said.

Former state Sen. Martin Sandoval pleaded guilty Jan. 28 to accepting bribes to support the operation of red-light cameras, according to federal court records.

Red-light cameras also have faced criticism from Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza. She said in a statement that her office no longer will assist municipalities in collection efforts for fines arising from red-light camera tickets.

“I am exercising the moral authority to prevent state resources being used to assist a shady process that victimizes taxpayers,” Mendoza said.

Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar said the village got rid of its red-light camera after about six months. He said the majority of the tickets issued from the system were for drivers making rolling right turns, not blowing a red light.

“It turned out it was a moneymaker, and it’s not how we want to make money,” Claar said.

Dykstra said he disagreed that red-light cameras are used for increasing revenue rather than traffic safety. He said the Rockdale Police Department has limited resources and the camera they use from RedSpeed USA helped reduce crashes.

“It’s another way of enforcing laws without having a physical officer there,” he said.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News