Could cameras soon catch bad drivers in Waterloo? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Could cameras soon catch bad drivers in Waterloo?

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Having an eye in the sky when police can't be on the ground. Waterloo city council members are considering installing traffic cameras, similar to the ones used in Cedar Rapids. Initially, the head of Waterloo's department had his reservations.

"My concern was the constitutional issues that we may face with them, and I had concerns about this violation going on a person's record without direct officer involvement," said Chief Dan Trelka.

Trelka learned the traffic cameras would be monitored by a police officer. That person could decided whether or not to issue a citation. For example, if it's winter, and a car slides through a light, the officer is allowed to let the violation slide as well.

The Chief said statistics show a camera could make a big difference at dangerous intersections, like Highway 63 and Ridgeway in Waterloo.

"I'm shocked at the number of cars that we have that simply just go through red lights," he said.

"The intention is to truly change people's driving habits. So that they do think twice when they get to an intersection," said Mayor Buck Clark.

Installing traffic cameras on intersections would, in theory, prevent people from running red lights. But Trelka said it could also help in other criminal investigations.

"We could set this system so that if we have an identified plate in an Amber Alert to actually identify that plate, and within seconds let law enforcement know that car went through that intersection. So that's amazing," he explained.

The tickets issued could also bring in more revenue for the city. But is this the right way to raise money?

"If I honestly believed they were for public safety, I would support them 1000%. This is about a revenue grab. And I think we ask our citizens to pay enough for the services they receive," said City Council Member Carolyn Cole.

"There is revenue generated, I mean, we're certainly not going to deny that. But the revenue is kind of second-hand to making the streets safer," responded Clark.

For now, police are depending on their own eyes to catch bad drivers -- installing cameras is up for future council debate.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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