Graham Kilmer

Milwaukee Leaders Want State To Allow Red Light Cameras

Mayor Johnson, County Executive Crowley say cameras are proven tool for addressing reckless driving.

By - Feb 16th, 2024 12:03 pm
Mayor Cavalier Johnson speaks at a press conference outside the Center Street Library about red light cameras. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson speaks at a press conference outside the Center Street Library about red light cameras. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson and a coalition of local leaders are pushing for changes in state law to allow the city to use traffic enforcement cameras.

At a press conference Friday, Johnson and County Executive David Crowley trumpeted the cameras, often called red light cameras, as a proven technology that will help the Milwaukee area better enforce traffic violations and address reckless driving.

“We need to arm ourselves with every available tool to make our road safer,” Johnson said. “One tool that’s proven to be incredibly effective is automated traffic enforcement cameras.”

Under current state law, municipalities cannot use red light cameras for traffic enforcement. For years, Milwaukee leaders have called on state legislators to let them employ the technology to take on reckless driving. Crowley introduced legislation twice during his time in the state Assembly. And in 2021, State Rep. LaKeshia Myers took up the mantle and introduced a bill. She also led a 2023 reintroduction. To date, the proposals have not gotten substantial traction despite some bipartisan support.

I’m calling for continued partnership between the state of Wisconsin and the City of Milwaukee to allow our city, our local government, the city of Milwaukee, to use traffic safety cameras,” Johnson said, “and our Common Council to work with my administration to set up a traffic safety camera program right here in the city of Milwaukee.”

Johnson and Crowley were joined by a coalition of elected officials and local leaders, including State Sen. LaTonya Johnson, state representatives Deb Andraca and Kalan Haywood II, Common Council members Larresa Taylor and Scott Spiker, city Vision Zero coordinator Jessica Wineberg, city librarian Joan Johnson and Greater Milwaukee Committee president Joel Brennan.

The mayor said that red light cameras are associated with lower traffic casualties. “So let me be clear, installing traffic security cameras will save lives,” said Johnson.

The event was held outside of the Center Street Library, 2727 W. Fond du Lac Ave. In December 2021, a school bus driver ran a red light outside the library and crashed into a Milwaukee County Transit System bus. The school bus, with no children aboard, then crashed into the library structure.

There is strong evidence supporting a relationship between disregarding traffic signals and traffic fatalities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and several studies have found evidence that red light cameras and the associated traffic enforcement do reduce crashes that lead to injury.

Pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and motorists demand and deserve action to increase multi-modal safety and reduce reckless driving,” Crowley said. 

The county executive said the red light cameras are a “proven solution” that would help Milwaukee address reckless driving that has reached “crisis levels.”

You can only have so many police officers, and traffic enforcement is a key component to policing,” Johnson said. “But police have a myriad issues that they need to address on a daily basis.”

Time and again, when local leaders have requested the necessary changes to state law, they have said that while the cameras won’t solve the problem of reckless driving, they are a critical tool. Police Chief Jeffrey Norman called them a “necessary tool” in 2021, as Urban Milwaukee previously reported.

Asked about red light cameras entrapping those whose vehicles were stolen, Johnson said the cameras provide an opportunity to make sure someone reports their car as stolen. “We’re not going to cite people who have had their vehicle stolen,” he said. “We’re not going to pour salt in the wound.”

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10 thoughts on “Milwaukee Leaders Want State To Allow Red Light Cameras”

  1. ZeeManMke says:

    Intersection traffic cameras in Chicago proved to be a gigantic fraud. Millions in fake traffic citations were sent to innocent victims. When the truth was exposed in court, the City laughed at the people and refused to return any of the money they had collected.  Claims by politicians they work without any evidence are as worthless as they are. Crowley and Johnson have zero credibility. Of course, these cameras would be useful as the government continues to track the movements of people.

    BTW, I found Ald. Larresa Taylor’s claim of being a “military veteran” odd. There is absolutely nothing anywhere – on her campaign bio and literature, her Facebook page or her book bio – that mentions being a vet. So I am curious, maybe she was in the National Guard?  Who knows. What branch of the military did she serve in? Most vets are proud to say where they served. 

  2. 818yogic says:

    Congrats ZeeMan as this comment finally got me to purchase a Urban Milwaukee membership so I can leave a comment.

    Do you question the Veteran status of all people or just Black woman? Just wondering… Ald. Taylor has been consistently stating this since she launched her campaign and in an article from TMJ4 after the election, it stated she was in the Navy Reserves. Why did you even mention it in relation to this article? It’s not even stated anywhere here.

    You are weird.

  3. tornado75 says:

    there is a lot of controversy re: cameras at intersections. right now i am for them in the hopes that a ticket will deter people from driving recklessly. if one says this will be a hardship on black and brown drivers, then is this not a racist comment as it assumes most of the reckless driving is done by black and brown drivers. anyone driving these streets knows that reckless driving occurs with peach colored folks too. reckless driving is an equal opportunity disaster.

  4. ZeeManMke says:

    Ald. Taylor is weird. Congrats on your subscription. There is only one alder who claims a military background. I’ve never met a vet who says their military service consisted of “military veteran.” That could mean anything from having your leg blown off in Iraq to a weekend each month at a Naval Base on Lake Michigan.

  5. Colin says:

    Johnson… wtf are you doing, this one you’re wrong on. Where has he been? This has been debated for a decade+, it’s been PROVEN to NOT work.
    Can only imagine the red light camera lobby got to him and paid up, as this is insane logic and goes against everything found.

    If he wants safer streets, then make the streets safer. There’s a dozen traffic calming tools available to do this, and red light cams aren’t it. That and fund public transport / more modes of transport, fewer cars = fewer injuries and deaths and accidents etc.

    And yeah, this does nothing to help those of stolen cars, or cars with no plates (of which there will be more after this). Or wanting to “beat” the light = DRIVE FASTER = worse for everybody.

  6. Ron Hockersmith says:

    Although fatal accidents may be reduced, studies have shown that red light cameras have the unfortunate side effect of increasing accidents overall as people aggressively stop to avoid a citation and others aggressively speed for the same. In addition, since they are usually installed by for profit companies on contract from the city (with much of the revenue going to the for profit company), incorrectly issued automated citations are nearly impossible to get removed without spending days navigating through bureaucracy.

  7. blurondo says:

    Successful completion of a certified driver training course prior to receiving or reinstating a drivers license is a sure way to impact the driver chaos that is rampant on the streets and highways today.

  8. tornado75 says:

    as in most cases, there is not one solution to a problem. the one that seems most ineffective is impounding the car of a reckless driver as how many of these are actually caught?? let’s at least do several things cameras, traffic calming things, driver training classes etc. etc.

  9. BigRed81 says:

    Driver’s Education classes belong in every Public High School. Local Auto Dealers provided cars back in the day.

    Dual benefit:
    • Our streets would be safer
    • Young people would be more likely to graduate.

  10. Day el B says:

    I don’t disagree that Drivers Education should be offered by High Schools (Charter Schools included if they are going to take money from anyone besides the parents), just as basic economics and banking classes should be a prerequisite for graduation.
    However, I am also pretty sure that the drivers blowing through red lights and stop signs or driving 30mph over the speed limit are not doing this because they don’t know the rules of the road.

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