||Chairwoman Heyman introduced the foregoing discussion item regarding the implementation of the County’s Red Light Camera Program into the record. She noted this item was before the Committee in response to the County Commission’s request for additional information related to the possible repeal of the associated ordinance. Chairwoman Heyman asked Deputy Director Juan J. Perez, Miami-Dade Police Department, to provide an update on Detective Jaime Pardinas’ condition.
Mr. Juan J. Perez, Deputy Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), reported that Officer Pardinas remained in Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He stated Officer Pardinas was scheduled for exploratory surgery associated with the puncture wounds in his neck that penetrated his trachea, adding there was also a puncture wound to his liver that was reported would heal naturally. Mr. Perez said he would travel to Dallas tomorrow to visit Officer Pardinas and join the investigation to identify the location of the suspect.
MDPD Deputy Director Perez reported that his department was able to identify the top ten intersections with the highest number of vehicle crashes in Unincorporated Miami-Dade County. He advised that if Red light cameras were installed, it would be possible to perform assessments and determine the cameras’ impact. Mr. Perez noted the department could also track the amount of money spent in court by the officers before and after the implementation of the cameras.
Chairwoman Heyman noted, for the record, that the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis submitted a letter through the County Clerk’s Office in reference to a funding source from revenue generated by Red Light Camera tickets payments.
Mr. Charles Anderson, Commission Auditor, noted his report, entitled “Red Light Camera Ordinance (updated), had been distributed to Committee members and was in response to Commissioner Heyman’s request for information pertaining to the municipalities that installed Red light cameras and the rate of accidents pre-camera and post-camera; ancillary benefits from Red light cameras; level of impact on police manpower and police court time; and funds generated for Miami-Dade County from Red light cameras for cities of jurisdictions to benefit the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. He noted the department conducted surveys with 22 jurisdictions and noted the results were reflected in the report distributed today (2/13). Mr. Anderson noted the survey results were reflected in Attachment 1 and stated the majority of the cities surveyed reported a decrease in traffic accidents post camera installation. Pertaining to ancillary benefits relating to “Don’t Block the Box,” Mr. Anderson stated 857 citations were issued; however, many of those were dismissed due to various alternative programs. He noted the total revenue collected into various County funds was $18,934; the total amount of uncollected fines was $21,800; and the amount generated from Red light cameras for cities of jurisdiction for the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, during FY 2011-12, was $139,000 (Attachment 4).
Mr. Anderson referenced a report issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FDHSMV) in December 28, 2012 that was also distributed at the dais today (2/1). He read the following language, from page 3, into the record: “…the common outcome since the installation of red light cameras was a decrease in traffic crashes. Forty-three percent noticed a reduction in side-impact crashes, 41% of the agencies surveyed experienced a reduction in rear-end crashes, while 56% of the agencies experienced a total reduction in crashes at red light camera intersections…” Mr. Anderson stated that the information collected by the department was favorable overall and that most of the jurisdictions reporting noticed a decrease in crashes at intersections; therefore, the cameras program appeared to be successful.
Chairwoman Heyman noted that some municipalities reported using red light cameras to enhance efforts to build crime scenes; document criminal activity; identify suspects; and eliminate the need for officers to appear in court. She recalled that the original red light camera ordinance addressed “No Right Turn on Red” ticketing; however, that issue was omitted from the ordinance since it was an infraction rather than a safety issue; Chairwoman Heyman noted this provision was recently reinforced in separate legislation providing that if a red light camera ordinance existed, “No Right Turn on Red” infractions should be cited as a violation through the use of red light cameras. She stressed that this issue was not included in the ordinance.
Commissioner Bovo asked the Commission Auditor to provide committee members with a breakdown of the total amount of funds collected ($19,774,851 in FY 2010-11 and $51,065,842 in FY 2011-12) by the State of Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) from fines levied on traffic signal violators, and to include the name and the amount distributed for each agency. He noted he did not expect the report to indicate that traffic accidents had increased, but that they had decreased, and that this should be a safety issue.
Chairwoman Heyman referenced the language on page one, under Background and Relevant Information, paragraph 2, of Mr. Anderson’s report, and stated Florida Statute 316.0083 provided for a $158 fine levied under various sections of FS 316. She read into the record language stating: “…$75 is retained by the local government and $83 is deposited with the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR). The DOR subsequently distributes the fines by depositing $70 in the General Revenue Fund, $10 in the Department of Health Administration Trust Fund, and $3 in the Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund…” Chairwoman pointed out that the bulk of the funds started with the local jurisdiction that issued the violation.
Commissioner Bovo clarified that he was requesting the actual amount collected by each agency and that, considering this in terms of health and safety, he supported the bulk of the monies going to the Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund. He acknowledged that the red light cameras were not supported by many residents; however, from a fiscal standpoint, he expressed support for all the revenue generated to be used towards health and safety.
In response to Chairwoman Heyman’s request for the current status of the Red Light Camera Ordinance, Assistant County Attorney Gerald Sanchez stated the Ordinance 11-01 provided that the Mayor or Mayor’s designee was authorized to implement the provisions and requirements of the ordinance relating to red light cameras consistent with the specifications established by the Florida Department of Transportation. He noted, however, that the ordinance did not provide for a timeframe for the implementation of the program.
Chairwoman Heyman asked the Miami-Dade Police Department Director to prepare a report identifying intersections with the worst traffic situations and the highest number of fatalities, injuries, moving violations, calls for service, and citations, and to include these items as a component in the procurement process for use by the Department of Procurement. She expressed support for the red light camera program which was passed under a previous regime and, pursuant to feedback received, was being implemented statewide. Chairwoman Heyman stated the results were positive with respect to law enforcement and reducing altercations, incidents, and infractions, and the program provided ancillary benefits associated with law enforcement and moving violations. She noted the ratio of the money distribution was governed strictly by the State legislature and requested the Mayor to prepare a document, inclusive of law enforcement’s input, on what was needed to implement this program in the Unincorporated Municipal Service Areas (UMSA)