BEND, OR -- A new law took effect in Oregon, Thursday, allowing law enforcement agencies that use red-light camera systems to also catch speeders. State law used to dictate the technology could only be used to issue tickets to drivers for running a light.
Despite the expansion, Lt. Clint Burleigh says the Bend Police Department has no intention of installing red light cameras or photo radar because officers would lose a valuable opportunity to educate drivers. "The individual contact we have with somebody who does get stopped for violating the red light law or violating a speeding law, where we feel it’s positive is that one-on-one contact," he tells KBND News. "There’s no situation that’s exactly the same. And, being able to handle that on the level of the discretion of the officer, face to face, is a pretty big deal." Lt. Burleigh says, "Red lights I think we all know they can be a problem in Bend. Some of our major intersections, I know we get a lot of complaints of people violating that law. If you have somebody that’s been driving for 30 years, they have no history of any kind of issues on their driving record, sometimes it’s just needing to be discussing that and saying, ‘This is why I stopped you; this is why it’s important to the community for this enforcement'."
Although, he doesn’t completely rule out the use of red light cameras in the future. "I think we as a department are always open to new ideas on what would make our community safer. But, not violating what we believe is our culture in having that relationship with our community." He says using the cameras would also require additional money and manpower.
The Oregon Department of Transportation confirms it does not use red light cameras to enforce traffic laws in Bend, either. ODOT officials tell KBND News cameras located at traffic signals in Bend are for "detection" only.
Beaverton has four red light cameras capable of capturing speeds and is expected to be the first city to take advantage of the new law. It allows the city to send tickets to people who drive those intersections at speeds faster than 10 miles over the posted limit. Portland, Sherwood and Medford are expected to come online in the next year.