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State Law May Stop Tulsa's Interest in Red Light Cameras

City of Tulsa

Tulsa doesn’t have red light cameras, and barring a change in state law, it will probably stay that way.

City prosecutor Bob Garner told city councilors that Oklahoma is one of those states with laws classifying running a red light as a criminal misdemeanor.

"As a criminal misdemeanor violation, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," Garner said.

That’s a much higher threshold than in states that consider the violation a civil offense. It means Tulsa would likely have to devote an officer to reviewing camera footage.

"You have to be able to identify the vehicle. You also have to be able to identify the operator or the driver of that vehicle," Garner said. "And, quite frankly, sometimes the cameras just aren't that good."

Obtaining an arrest warrant from a judge would also be part of the process.

"I would have assumed that it would be more efficient to have red light cameras," said Councilor G.T. Bynum. "But it sounds like it isn't. It sounds substantially more efficient just to have an officer there."

Bynum had asked Garner for a legal opinion on the cameras.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.