May 1, 2007 in City

Panel to take another look at red-light cameras

By The Spokesman-Review

A Spokane committee will take another look at companies that want to provide photo equipment that catches red-light runners after reports that its top recommendation faces allegations of problems in Canada and the United States.

The Spokane City Council will hold a public hearing Monday evening about whether to install the system, known as photo-red, at an undetermined number of dangerous intersections. Cameras set up at the intersections record the license numbers of cars that run red lights, and the owners can be sent citations after photos are reviewed by police.

A committee reviewing the system studied proposals from three companies and planned to recommend Affiliated Computer Services, which is based in Dallas.

On Sunday, The Spokesman-Review reported that ACS is facing bribery allegations in Edmonton, Alberta; had reports of equipment problems in Washington, D.C.; and had its chief executive officer and chief financial officer resign in November after questions about stock options.

ACS spokesman David Shapiro said the Edmonton allegations are unproven and untrue and the Washington, D.C., equipment problems were exaggerated. The questions about stock options were in the past, he said, and have nothing to do with the current company.

The review committee will meet again Thursday to go over its recommendation of ACS.

The City Council got a briefing Monday afternoon on the way photo-red works from Sgt. Eric Olsen, the department’s liaison to the review committee. Council President Joe Shogan tried to cut off any discussion about ACS, saying the council wasn’t deciding on a vendor at this point.

But Councilman Al French said the city would have to make sure that taxpayers were protected “regardless of who we select.”

Councilman Bob Apple, who serves on the review committee, said he voted for one of the other companies but was sure “there was no way anybody could have been influenced for any vendor getting a preference.”

Apple said later he has reservations about adopting any photo-red system in Spokane. The review committee will only make a recommendation on the choice of a vendor, he said, and the council will make the decision.

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