At the request of city council, the Golden Police Department did a deep dive into the potential application of traffic enforcement technology in Golden.
Police Chief Joe Harvey delivered a 172-page report prepared by staff that details the results and analysis of the automated traffic enforcement devices and how they could be leveraged to increase safety and mitigate accidents.
Harvey’s report, presented for discussion at the April 12 city council meeting, focused on three specific devices, photo radar, photo red light, and noise detection systems.
Photo red light systems are controversial, explained Harvey. Some experts say they’re good at reducing accidents, while others say they increase rear-end accidents and side-impact accidents.
For a community like Golden, Harvey said photo red light systems would be challenging to implement since many of the city’s red lights are located on state highways.
Harvey said research shows that along with the use of roundabouts, the city doesn’t have a significant problem with injury accidents and that photo red light technology would not necessarily be a good option for the city.
Councilmembers seemed to agree.
On the other hand, the use of photo radar seemed more appealing, primarily because it is mobile and can be quickly implemented by a third-party company.
Harvey said the areas in which photo radar may be used are well specified in statute,
Those areas, he said, include residential where there is housing on both sides of the street, any safety zone such as a school or construction area, and near parks.
Another plus is that photo radar can be implemented by a trained civilian rather than a certified police officer.
Harvey pointed out that with the department’s approval to increase its code enforcement staff by four, there would be some additional capacity for such a project.
While councilmembers offered support for further exploration of photo radar in Golden, Laura Weinberg provided words of caution.
“I am very supportive of this,” she said, “but I am also mindful of the amount of time, education and outreach and the amount of work that’s going to need to be done. I think it’s important, but I would not prioritize this over some of the other things we’ve already asked our police department to do.”
Harvey said the photo radar project would be an item for 2023.
As for noise enforcement technology, Chief Harvey said the technology is too new and rapidly evolving.
He said he would not be confident in his ability to be defensible in court. Instead, he recommended a wait-and-see approach as other states attempt to roll out such technology.