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Senate approves using cameras to nab speeders in Chicago

Updated: November 28, 2011 10:19AM

SPRINGFIELD — Bigger swathes of Chicago could wind up on video cameras under anti-speeding legislation that passed the Illinois Senate on Wednesday.

The proposal, which passed 32-24 and now moves to the House, is being sought by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help nab speeders around city schools and parks. The measure applies only to Chicago.

“We have in Chicago a pedestrian fatality rate that’s 68 percent higher than in New York City, and we do lose a number of young children in these crashes in the city of Chicago,” said Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), the bill’s chief Senate sponsor.

“We’ve seen in other areas of the nation where they’ve had this, there’s a big decrease in the number of tickets issued after the first month because people figure out they shouldn’t be speeding. And as a result, safety ensues,” he said.

The plan would allow the cameras to be mounted in areas within one-eighth of a mile of city parks and schools. Cameras around schools could function between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., while cameras on streets near parks would operate an hour before parks open and an hour after they close.

Critics complained that the proposal was intrusive, would eventually lead to speeding cameras in the suburbs and Downstate and amounted to a money grab by the city.

“I’m against this big brother piece of legislation. I think we need more cops, not cameras,” said Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington).

The debate turned personal at one point after the remarks by Duffy, who opposed red-light camera legislation after being caught on video running stoplights.

“I can’t help but think there might be another reason the previous speaker is opposed to . . . cameras, and it may have something to do with him being shown twice passing through those red-light cameras,” said Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-East Moline).

Earlier Wednesday, Duffy took a shot at Jacobs during the Senate’s override vote on utility rate-hike legislation favored by Commonwealth Edison, pointing out that Jacobs’ father — former state Sen. Denny Jacobs (D-East Moline) — is a ComEd lobbyist.

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