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Inspector General Slams Record Keeping For Red Light Cameras

A city of Chicago red light camera (Credit: CBS)

A city of Chicago red light camera (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The city’s Inspector General said Tuesday that an audit of the red light camera program cannot back up City Hall claims that the cameras have been placed at Chicago’s most dangerous intersections.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, when former Mayor Richard M. Daley launched the red light camera program a decade ago, city officials insisted the move was designed to increase traffic safety.

The city said cameras would be placed at intersections with the highest rates of angle crashes caused by drivers running red lights.

Ten years later, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson said “there aren’t sufficient records or documents to substantiate that claim.”

Ferguson said some cameras have been placed at intersections with no angle crashes.

However, Ferguson said his office hasn’t been able to determine if the lack of sufficient records is the result of an intentional effort to ignore the stated goal of the program, or simply a matter of sloppy record-keeping.

“We don’t know. There are some things that probably fall into each one of those categories,” he said.

Ferguson said the Emanuel administration has effectively blamed the Daley administration, even though Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been in office for two years, and has done little to change the program.

He also said there’s no evidence the program is being run in an effort to maximize revenue from red light tickets.

The audit also found the city spends more than $13,000 a year on maintenance costs for each camera, which cost $25,000 each to install.

Ferguson’s office has recommended the city establish a clear set of criteria for how it determines where to place the cameras, and to retain records of the process for each decision to install or relocate a camera.