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Elliott deems red-light ‘harassment’ argument missing facts

A Grigsby Chapel Road resident told Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen the Town’s red-light cameras constituted “harassment” at the Board meeting Thursday, Jan. 27.

Don Maloney told the Board that Grigsby Chapel Road residents were “going to be trapped like rats” by a red-light camera at Kingston Pike and Smith Road and an incoming camera at Campbell Station and Grigsby Chapel roads.

“I looked at my typical week, and if the camera is added at Grigsby Chapel and Campbell Station, I will have the opportunity to go through an intersection with a red-light camera 30 and 40 times a week,” Maloney said.

“That’s excessive. That’s harassment,” he added.

The Town has red-light cameras at Campbell Station and Kingston Pike, Smith Road and Kingston Pike and Concord Road and Kingston Pike. The cameras cover two approaches at each intersection.

In the coming months, Farragut will install a fourth red-light system at Campbell Station and Grigsby Chapel, and the two cameras there will be placed on north and south Campbell Station, not on Parkside Drive or on Grigsby Chapel.

Maloney said the percentage of cameras per intersections in Farragut was very high.

“There’s 22 red lights in the town of Farragut with four cameras, with the additions of the ones at Grigsby Chapel and Campbell Station. That’s 18 percent,” Maloney said.

Maloney compared that to City of Knoxville and Knox County intersections and cameras, but his statistics were faulty since only the City has red-light cameras.

According to Knoxville Police Department Capt. Gordon Catlett and Ernie Pearce of the Knoxville signal department, Knoxville has 273 total signalized intersections, and 15 intersections monitored by red-light cameras.

But Catlett said the percentages have no real bearing on how many red-light cameras there are.

“That would be like trying to justify the number of police officers you hire by the number of speeders there are in the city,” he said.

But according to Maloney, the new camera at GCR and CSR was what prompted him to speak out.

“I’ve been privately very vocal about red-light cameras, but with the announcement of the addition of the fourth one at Campbell Station and Grigsby Chapel, I have decided to become public,” Maloney said.

“I really don’t think it’s fair for those of us who live on Grigsby Chapel to be subjected that many more times than people who live in other parts of the County and may not even encounter a red-light camera 30 times in a year,” he added.

Maloney said he had never received a red-light camera ticket, and called himself a law-abiding citizen, but told the Board their priorities were in the wrong order.

He told the Board he had a statistically greater chance of getting away with armed robbery, home invasion or selling drugs than rolling through a right turn on red.

“We have swallowed the elephant and gagged on the gnat,” he said.

Maloney told the Board they should “focus on the real problems.”

Mayor Ralph McGill asked Maloney what types of problems he believed the Town should focus on.

Maloney mentioned a car accident he witnessed at Everett Road and Kingston Pike and alluded to the Town fixing that intersection. The Town is, in fact, working with TDOT to fix that intersection — Kingston Pike will be widened to five lanes and a signal will be installed there.

Alderman Bob Markli agreed with Maloney and asked that the Town postpone installing the new red-light camera until he saw statistics proving the cameras’ success. The Town releases statistics showing the number of red-light running incidents at each intersection once a quarter.

His motion died for lack of a second.

Alderman Jeff Elliott produced crash numbers released by Knox County Sheriff’s Office at a WBIR Channel 10 request last August.

From January to June 2009, there were 31 car accidents reported to KCSO at Kingston Pike and Campbell Station, KP and Concord and KP and Smith, before any cameras were installed. From January to June 2010, after the cameras were installed, there were only nine accidents reported to KCSO at those same intersections.

Data released from the Town every quarter also shows a drastic decrease in the number of people who run red lights — right turn on red or not. According to Town photo enforcement manager Ben Harkins, that number has dwindled to less than eight citations per day.

“Everyone has opinions,” Elliott said. “I’m interested in the factual evidence.”


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