Murfreesboro green lights another year of red light cameras

The Murfreesboro City Council voted 5-1 Thursday night to keep its controversial red light cameras around another year.

The decision came after a lengthy letter of support from the city’s police chief.

Glenn Chrisman wrote the 11 page letter to the city’s mayor and council members urging their support to extend the contract of the company, American Traffic Systems (ATS), for another year.

In the letter, Chief Chrisman cited numbers to support his assertion that safety has always been the “primary goal of the program.”

He said that in 2007 and 2008 at the six intersections where cameras would later be installed, there were 173 crashes.

In 2013 and 2014 with the cameras mounted at the same intersections, there were 88 crashes, or about a 50 percent decrease.

The chief cited Murfreesboro finance records saying the program generated revenue of nearly $1.16 million.

Nearly $900,000 went to the camera company ATS, and more than $225,000 back to city coffers. Seventeen-thousand traffic tickets are written yearly in Murfreesboro, based on the images collected by the cameras. ATS then sends Murfreesboro police the licenses of the offending drivers captured on video, and they are fined $50.

Council member Eddie Smotherman was one of the critics. He said ATS gets 100 percent of the first $600 of paid tickets.

After that, its a 50-50 split between ATS and the city.

The council member thinks there are better ways than the red light camera to make Murfreesboro roads safer.

He suggests strobes on the red lights to catch drivers attention, or rumble strips–small speed bumps–near intersections to slow people down.

The contract for the company operating the camera system expires on Nov. 30, but Thursday’s vote ensures the city can use the cameras for another year. 

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