10/26/2007

Red-light cams produce $6 million for Houston PD

By Mike Glenn
The Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON — Red light cameras installed at 50 intersections throughout the city have generated more than $6 million for the city since the program was launched last fall, Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt said Thursday.

HPD officials are now deciding how to spend some of the money.

About $25,000 will be spent on an evaluation of the camera program by Rice University and the Texas Transportation Institute.

"They are going to be looking at everything, including where (the cameras) are placed," said Executive Assistant Chief Martha Montalvo, who supervises the program.

The evaluation will examine accidents at intersections where cameras have been mounted, compared with surrounding areas, officials said.

The results from the review of the first 20 intersections are expected by the end of January, Montalvo said.

Almost $1 million will go toward equipment upgrades and safety programs aimed at troubled youth, and $635,000 to replace aging video cameras in patrol cars.

Hurtt also wants to buy three vehicles — at $80,000 each — that can be used to test a driver's blood-alcohol level at the scene.

Another item on the list is $229,000 to send extra officers to patrol school zones and areas where HPD has received complaints about speeders.

About $83,000 will be spent sending officers to work with high school students who have drug and alcohol problems.

"We're going to have teen driver safety programs targeting young adults that have been involved in accidents," Hurtt said. "That's a $20,000 program."

Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

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