Illinois state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) doesn’t mince words in describing his contempt for the use of red-light cameras in Chicago.
“It’s policing for revenue,” Caulkins told the Chambana Sun. “I don’t believe that the cameras are meant to be a deterrent, but a way to generate revenue off of unsuspecting motorists. I think it’s always been a scheme and is just another example of using policing for something it shouldn’t be used for.”
A new Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) study finds that Chicago now has more red-light cameras than any other city in the country and has the receipts to prove it. Over the last decade, the city has pocketed upward of $700 million from the use of the devices, well over the comparatively modest $287 million New York City has generated from the practice in the more than quarter-century.
Illinois state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur)
In grand total, Chicago now counts 309 red-light cameras, well four over times the average number found in New York, Philadelphia and Phoenix, home of the next three cities with the most cameras.
“We shouldn’t be policing for revenue,” Caulkins said. “If there’s a dangerous stop sign and people are running stop signs and causing wrecks, police should be patrolling that area. But that’s not what this is about, we’re looking at just another way to get money out of people, out of drivers any way you can.”
Currently, longtime state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) is under federal investigation over his dealing with SafeSpeed LLC, one of the city’s largest red-light camera operators. Sandoval, who up until recently served as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, recently saw both his home and office raided by federal agents as part of a corruption probe that includes Sandoval's relationship with SafeSpeed.
“I’ve been an opponent of putting up red-light cameras ever since I learned about them,” Caulkins said. “What we’re seeing now just lets me know that I was right to have my suspicions.”
In the wake of all the controversy, legislators in Springfield have recently filed two bills seeking to ban the use of devices across the state.