Suburbs Begin Revolt Against Cook County’s Red Light Camera Program
Schaumburg Passes RLC Ban Tuesday Night
That’s what an increasing number of infuriated suburban municipalities are saying to the Cook County Board’s plan to install red light cameras in their towns last week.
Just days after the board voted 10-3 to approve contracts for two vendors to begin installing cameras at 30 intersections on county roads scattered all over suburban Cook County, more and more and municipalities are pushing back.
Tuesday evening, the Schaumburg Village Board voted unanimously to pass an ordinance prohibiting the country from erecting RLC cameras within their city limits without the town’s consent.
“We had a good relationship with the Cook County Highway Department,” explained Schaumburg trustee George Dunham. “But this thing came out of left field. It was a surprise.”
Dunham doesn’t think it’s a coincidence Cook County assigned cameras to six intersections in Schaumburg–the most of any suburb. “I think they took our experience out here and figured they can put themselves in the black in just a few years,” said Dunham referring to how one red light camera the village had erected near Woodfield Mall generated over a million dollars in revenue in just 75 days. Schaumburg eventually decided to remove that camera nearly 16 months ago.
Schaumburg’s attorney Jack Siegel feels the board’s plan undermines the village’s home rule rights and may be violate the Illinois state constitution.
The village board not only instructed their attorney to send a letter to the board to ask them to reconsider their decision, but also gave him the green light to file a lawsuit against the county’s actions immediately according to Dunham.
“As soon as he can,” is how Dunham described the speed of the legal filing. “There’s no reason to wait any longer than he has to.”
Even the town’s website implores residents to contact county board members to voice their opposition.
“The people of Schaumburg don’t want red light cameras,” says resident and mayoral candidate Brian Costin who came out in opposition of the county’s plan hours after it was announced. “I applaud Mayor Larson and the village board for doing the right thing. It’s not about public safety, and it’s infringing upon local police powers. It’s obviously about revenue. They probably didn’t pick the most dangerous intersections, but intersections where they can generate the most money.”
Schaumburg’s move comes a day after Arlington Heights unanimously approved a resolution asking the county board to rethink their plan. But Arlington Heights, which employs the same attorney as Schaumburg, is asking him to draft an ordinance banning RLCs in their town too according to the Daily Herald.
Buffalo Grove, which just a few months ago, had rejected plans to install red light cameras in their town is planning on taking a vote on an ordinance to keep the cameras out at their monthly village board meeting on June 21st.
In addition, Wilmette, according to a Chicago Tribune report, drafted a resolution against the county’s RLC plan too.
And at least some county board members may be backpedaling on the issue. According to the Daily Herald, because the county completely surprised the towns with the RLC plan, Commissioner Larry Sufredin of Evanston, who voted for the RLCs, is now looking to delay installing the cameras until after electing the new board president in November.
In addition, the same Herald article reports Commissioner Timothy Schneider of Bartlett, who originally voted against the cameras, will try to push for an amendment to allow local municipalities to opt out of the RLC program.
Overall, there seems to be some real legal confusion on whether the county can impose red light cameras on roads in municipalities where they don’t have the primary responsibility police enforcement. Costin believes the potential legal challenges to the RLC program may delay and possibly derail the plan.
“It’s going to be a legal disaster for them,” laughed Costin. “The Cook County Board hasn’t even approved an ordinance for the red light cameras yet, even though they OK’d the (vendor) contracts. Plus the Illinois constitution has no precedence for Cook County or any counties to enforce red light cameras within a municipality’s jurisdiction.”
“It seems odd how they decided to move forward without supporting legislation,” Dunham agreed. “But Cook County is famous for things like this.”
The Cook County Board will meet again June 15th to debate these matters.