According to multiple reports, Miami commissioners have decided to terminate the red-light camera systems set up across the city.
The unanimous vote took place on Thursday, December 14, and officially put an end to the red-light camera system that has been issuing tickets since 2010.
Before the system was terminated, it was operated by a company called American Traffic Solutions. The cameras automatically snapped a photo if motion was detected across an intersection while a red light was on display. Once a driver’s license plate was captured, he or she would be mailed a ticket with a $158 fee attached.
The lawmakers who voted agreed to give the company 60 days to begin shutting down operations of dozens of cameras set up throughout the city.
“We have a very poor city,” said Commissioner Joe Carollo. “That’s a huge amount of money taken out of our city.”
Commissioner Carollo also claimed while on the campaign trail that Miami has more red-light cameras than any other city in the U.S.
Although the cameras were said to have been implemented to improve safety measures, residents began speculating whether or not they were used to help the city government’s budget during the recession.
According to Miami police, there are a total of 147 red-light cameras installed in the city, 98 of which remain operational.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has reportedly been attempting to put an end to the program since 2013. Commissioners were finally able to end their contract with ATS citing “convenience” reasons, thanks to a clause that allowed the city to remove the program without facing penalties.
The Florida Supreme Court is also expected to consider a case about the legality of the red-light cameras in February 2018.
“Regardless of today’s decision the fact remains that Miami is one of the most dangerous cities in the nation for pedestrians and bicyclists,” said ATS spokesman Charles Territo.
Miami’s police union spoke out about their disagreement with the decision made on Thursday by warning the city commissioners that the city also uses the cameras to solve crimes and pay bills. The program was expected to rake in a total of $10.5 million in red-light camera tickets if it hadn’t been terminated.
The city of Miami has been considered one of the poorest major cities in the U.S.
"These red-light cameras are essentially another tax, one that the residents of my district cannot afford," said Commissioner Manolo Reyes. "I thank my colleagues and Mayor Francis Suarez for their support."
Supporters of the red-light camera program argue that the cameras help prevent crashes and fatalities caused by people who drive through red lights. Meanwhile opponents claim that the cameras have the opposite effect and actually create incidents by inciting drivers to increase their speed to beat the red light.
After the unanimous vote, Suarez expressed relief by tweeting a message that said the decision was “necessary to defend Miami’s most vulnerable residents from continuing to be overburdened by these excessive fines.”