The city of El Paso has officially turned off the cameras at various intersections around town.
This comes days after the Texas governor officially banned red light cameras across the state. Gov. Greg Abbott posted a video on Twitter on Saturday as he signed the bill into law.
City officials confirmed with ABC-7 that the cams were turned off shortly after the governor signed the bill.
City records obtained by ABC-7 show that since 2006, El Paso depended on 32 red light cams to monitor driver activity at 21 intersections.
Abbott explained to ABC-7 ahead of the start of the legislative session why he backed a ban on the cameras.
“There are many people in El Paso who own a car, and they may have a friend or family member driving that car,” Abbott said. “If that friend or family member turns right on red and a camera takes a picture of it, they will send that ticket, typically to the owner of the car. Well, the owner of the car did not commit a crime and yet is charged with a crime and has to spend money and time trying to extricate themselves from that crime.”
The signing has been met less than enthusiastic reactions from local law enforcement.
“I think it might have been a knee-jerk reaction to some political pressure that he was getting,” said Sgt. Ron Martin, the president of the police association.
“People are aware that those intersections are photo-enforced,” Martin said. “The association stance on it is anything that helps prevent people from getting hurt and reduces the amount of traffic accidents is a good thing.”
Abbott had a different vision for the future of monitoring problem intersections.
“I think the better course of action is good old law enforcement, where you have a law enforcement officer at an intersection.”
Martin said that solution may drive up response times to other calls. He also said the ban on the red light cams will lead to a red mark on the records of drivers across the city.
“Now, you’re going to have a citation on your driver’s history that you ran a red light and that we gave you a ticket,” added Martin.
El Paso Mayor Dee Margo told ABC-7 that they believe the cameras contributed to drivers slowing down at the monitored intersections.
Margo also said the city generated about $500,000 through the fees.
Drivers who have received a ticket before June 2 will still have to pay the fine.