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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted at 6:08 p.m., Tuesday, March 19, 2002

State wants police to run traffic cams

Do you think county police departments should take over the day-to-day oversight of the state's traffic photo enforcement program? Join our discussion

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Transportation Writer

County police departments should take over day-to-day oversight of the state's traffic photo enforcement program, Transportation Director Brian Minaai said today.

Minaai told lawmakers that police departments are the most appropriate agencies to run an enforcement program.

"They should be able to decide whether to do it, where to do it, and when to do it," he said.

Under Minaai's proposal, the Transportation Department would continue to administer the state's contract with the private company operating the cameras, but police officials on each island would decide how the cameras are deployed. The department would consider reimbursing police for administrative expenses from the state's share of revenue generated by ticket citations, he said.

Police officials in Maui and Hawai'i counties have reacted enthusiastically and Honolulu police "are open to the idea," Minaai said.

When photo enforcement was first proposed for Hawai'i in 1998, the original legislation called for the program to be run by county police. Before it was implemented, however, legislators changed the law to put the Transportation Department in charge of a three-year trial project.

When tickets were first issued in January one of the biggest public objections to the program was that it was privately run without any police supervision. Model legislation for automated traffic enforcement programs prepared by three national groups in October requires county police to oversee such programs, Minaai said.

Honolulu city officials, who in the past have declined to allow speed camera vans on city roads, today said they are open to the proposal but want to hear more details.

"We'd like to see their proposal and hear their ideas," city spokeswoman Carol Costa said. "We're open to hearing and reviewing what they have to say, but we'd rather hear it from the state directly before we comment further."

Police Chief Lee Donohue also said he'd have no comment until hearing more from state officials.

In the past, police on Maui and Hawai'i County have said they would welcome the use of the camera technology to help slow drivers, but administration officials in those counties have been less enthusiastic about participating in the state program. Kaua'i officials said they were taking a wait-and-see approach to participation.

Minaai made his comments today during a Senate hearing today on a House bill to overhaul the van cam program.

Mike Leidemann can be reached at 525-5460 or mleidemann@honoluluadvertiser.com.