Hartford city lawmakers again pushing for red-light cameras in Capital City


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Some Hartford City Councilors have started the uphill battle to place red-light cameras at intersections to take pictures and catch those who break the law. But opponents say, “not so fast.”

Right now it is just an idea coming out of committee after people in the community have come forward saying they don’t feel safe walking or driving in Hartford. The counselors know it will be a tough fight, but one they are willing to try…again.

Five years ago Hartford tried to hang red-light cameras at intersections to catch lawbreakers; it didn’t pass. Now they are trying again after numerous accidents, deaths, and close calls.

“I had to drop everything to run out of the way of a car,” one woman told News 8. “I ended up getting hit on the ankle with the car in the cart.”

Residents are calling and emailing City Council leaders about safety concerns.

Hyacinth Yennie of Chair Maple Avenue Revitalization said, “Every day you drive out there or walk out there your life is in jeopardy because somebody is going to blow that red light.”

And city councilors say they are listening and red-light cameras may be a way to slow drivers.

Council President Maly D. Rosado (D) explained her own experience, “I can be at a red light and somebody will just drive around [my car] and run the red light, and so we want to be proactive.”

Monday night, the Public Safety Committee looked at the pilot program that was pitched not to make money but to make the street safer. They are targeting blatant offenders, not those running through a yellow light.

Councilmember John Gale (Hartford Party) said, “We want to be more of a walkable city, therefore we also want it to be a very safe city.”

The ACLU has typically come out against red-light cameras and any sort of cameras that monitors people that are unregulated. The NAACP sent a letter to the council Monday; they are not in favor of this because it disproportionately targets brown and Black communities, as opposed to other communities. The council says they are open to talks.

Councilman James Sanchez (D) said, “The victims that passed away are all Black and Hispanics, so how about their rights? How about the rights of the families? What are you going to tell the families?”

Mayor Luke Bronin is on board with red light cameras but knows if Hartford puts this through they also have to talk to lawmakers.

“Current state law does not allow cities or towns to use red-light cameras or speed cameras,” the mayor explained.

And the community knows there are other uphill battles for the red-light cameras.

“A lot of people are running lights because the cars are stolen or it doesn’t belong to them, and they don’t care,” Yennie added.

So at Monday’s meeting, they push the red-light cameras forward to committee, and if it does make it past all the city counselors, the next debate will be taken up with state lawmakers.

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