By Olin Ericksen
March 22 -- Soon, you may want smile if you gun
it through a red light in Santa Monica -- because you might
have your picture taken.
Revisiting an issue rebuffed years ago because of concerns
for civil liberties, the City Council voted Tuesday to explore
installing cameras at Santa Monica intersections to catch
red-light runners red-handed.
The council decided to move ahead after advances in picture
taking and the State's legal system zoomed in on an answer
to privacy issues, including concerns that shots could include
those other than the driver.
"What has changed since this was before us years ago,
is state law and technology," said Council member Bob
Holbrook, who placed the item back on the agenda.
"State law does not allow them to send a photographic
citation with anyone showing except the driver of the car,"
Technology has also focused on improving the camerawork.
"There is no guess work where somebody happened to be
out there when the light changed," Holbrook said. "It
takes a series of photographs when a line is crossed."
Council member Kevin McKoewn -- a vocal critic of increased
camera use in Santa Monica on several occasions -- seconded
the motion for staff to return with more information.
"I've been very skeptical about the placement of surveillance
cameras in public places, where we were creating a record
of who went where with whom, when those persons were doing
absolutely nothing wrong," McKeown said.
"If indeed the technology has improved, then these cameras
are only taking pictures of somebody who has just done something
that violates the social contract we have,” he said.
“It violates it in an extraordinarily dangerous and
"I don't have a civil liberties concern on this,"
Holbrook said that cameras have been effective in stopping
red-light runners in their tracks and has been a lesson to
other drivers to think twice about endangering pedestrians
and other motorists.