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Peoria may ask state legislators to allow red-light camera installations

FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2015 file photo, vehicles pass by a red light camera in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)
M. Spencer Green/AP
In this Feb. 10, 2015 file photo, vehicles pass by a red light camera in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

The Peoria City Council may ask state legislators to allow for installation of red-light cameras in Peoria County.

Automated cameras monitoring intersections for motorists running red lights are currently only allowed under state law in eight Illinois counties, all in the Chicago and St. Louis metropolitan areas. Motorists caught running a red light by a camera can be issued a ticket.

Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich said some Peoria council members are concerned about traffic safety and want the county and its municipalities added to the list of eligible communities.

"It's to try and curtail some of the illegal behavior. And with being nearly 22 police officers short, it's difficult for us to focus on traffic enforcement when we have other needs that we have to focus on," Urich said. "So, this would provide the city with some flexibility in terms of how we would go about addressing traffic enforcement using technology, which is being used to great effect in metropolitan Chicago."

The city installed 16 automatic license plate readers earlier this year as a law enforcement tool. A grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity eventually could fund the purchase of 150 more. ALPRs aren't used to issue traffic citations.

Urich said while the red-light cameras would generate revenue, the city's primary concern is cracking down on traffic violations.

"This is not really the intent from the city council at all," he said. "I mean, the issue more than anything is trying to curtail the behavior of drivers that continue to run red lights and drive well beyond the speed limit throughout the city."

A memo to the city council from Urich and interim city corporation counsel Chrissie Kapustka argues the only reason most Illinois counties weren't included in the 2006 red-light law was simply because they didn't express interest at the time.

If approved by the city council, the request to allow red-light camera installation in Peoria County would be added to the city's 2023 legislative wish list.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.