Knoxville Police Department defends red light cameras

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Knoxville Police Department is making its case for red light cameras after State Rep. Andy Holt announced he is working on a bill to ban the cameras.

Holt says they send Tennessee dollars out of state and calls them unconstitutional if they’re unmanned. Knoxville Police Department spokesperson Darrell DeBusk said KPD opposes the proposal and insists that the red light cameras save lives.

Video obtained by WATE 6 On Your Side from American Traffic Solutions shows a car nearly hitting people crossing the road at the intersection of Henley Street and Clinch Avenue. That’s one example of why agencies like KPD want the cameras to stay.

“It saves lives. It protects the public and it’s a very valuable asset to the public and the city of Knoxville,” said Darrell DeBusk of the Knoxville Police Department.

While drivers like Bob Fisher agree to an extent. They also believe the cameras cause some harm too. That’s why he said he would support a proposal to remove nearly two dozen cameras from the city of Knoxville and from the rest of the state.

“I’m so afraid that coming up on one and when I have to stop, I don’t want to run one, but I’m so afraid I’m going to get hit from behind and you know, you’ve got to slow down so fast. That’s my biggest fear.” said Bob Fisher of Knoxville.

Numbers from the Knoxville Police Department show the amount of rear end crashes have gone down with the cameras. From January 1 to September 30, 2013, there were 160 rear end crashes. That number dropped to 127 for the same time period last year.

KPD says none of those are due to the red light cameras.

“We think that the representative needs to look at cities where it’s working and look at all the details before making a decision because it works here,” said DeBusk.

In that same time period last year, about 21,345 citations were issued in Knoxville that cost $50 each. KPD told WATE 6 On Your Side that an officer reviews each red light incident and decides whether a citation will be issued.

Web Extra: Knoxville Police Department red light camera statistics [PDF]

“I guess overall it’s probably worth having, you know, but I still think it’s still a little bit of a nuisance, I think,” said Fisher.

Other numbers obtained from KPD show the total number of crashes from January 1 to September 30, 2014 were down compared to 2013. Those numbers included 299 wrecks in 2013 and 245 in 2014. It’s a difference of 54 crashes.

In that same time period, the program collected nearly $841,000 from fines. $179,206.92 of that money goes to the city of Knoxville and will go into the general fund.

Rep. Holt is still working on his bill and looking at how other states have handled this issue.

Red light cameras in Knoxville and Farragut:

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