New photo enforcement cameras going in; operator, opponents face off

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PHOENIX -- Red light runners beware: More photo radar cameras are coming to the Valley.

The cameras are going up all across the city of Phoenix:

35th Avenue at Dunlap
40th Street at Pecos
16th Street at Jefferson
51st Avenue at Van Buren
15th Avenue at Missouri
53rd Avenue at Indian School
12th Street at Camelback
67th Avenue at McDowell
40th Street at Broadway
7th Street at Union Hills


These new cameras are going up while many people still have questions about their effectiveness. More than a year has gone by, and still people wonder if they're really doing what they're supposed to, or causing more harm than good.

That was the heated debate at Thursday’s luncheon hosted by the Tempe Chamber of Commerce.

On the right: For the first time, we're hearing from the company that installs and maintains these photo radar machines: Jay Heiler from Redflex.

“The technology really does a wonderful job in making all of us more attentive as we drive, and helping us control our driving behavior, and across time that saves a lot of lives and a lot of injuries and a lot of property damage,” Heiler explained.

On the left: Shawn Dow, with Arizona's Citizens Against Photo Radar, who disagrees with just about everything Redflex is saying.

“They'll try and convince you about safety -- and ignoring the fact that rear-end collisions have increased greatly because of photo radar -- and try to tell you it's about safety when in reality it's really all about the money,” Dow countered.

Money might be part of it, but according to law enforcement, safety has improved since they started flashing.

“We're seeing some positive impacts from it as far as our collisions are going down, so we're happy to say that,” said Tempe Police Sgt. Steve Carbajal.

Probably no surprise -- there aren't too many people who like the cameras. But Sgt. Carbajal says not having to watch for speeders protects the community better.

“We are able to free up some of those first responders by having them respond to other calls,” he explained.

Those new photo radar cameras will all be up and taking pictures in the next few weeks.

The Arizona's Citizens Against Photo Radar organization has been collecting signatures to put the issue on the November ballot for 2010. They had a booth set up at the state fair, and they went to Gilbert after the luncheon Thursday.