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Suffolk pol raises questions on red-light cameras, too

After reading of Nassau County's controversy with its newly installed intersection cameras, a Suffolk County legislator said Monday he plans to bring the same matter up at a committee meeting Tuesday.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy signed a bill on June 24 to install cameras in up to 50 intersections. The Suffolk legislature had unanimously approved the measure.

The dispute in Nassau began when drivers started receiving mailed notifications of violation that they had not made a full stop before turning right at a red light. At least one resident denies that she "rolled through" the red light.

Nassau Legis. Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) said lawmakers were not told that the red-light cameras would be used to issue tickets for such right turns - that instead, the program was presented as intended only to penalize drivers who drove straight through red lights.

Suffolk Legis. Edward Romaine (R-Center Moriches) said Monday the Suffolk bill was pushed as a safety measure, not a revenue producer. He plans to ask the public works commissioner and his staff whether roll-through right turns would also generate tickets.

And he said there's a difference between running a red light and not making a complete stop at a light, and before cameras are installed he wants the legislature to discuss fines for the different traffic infractions.

"The major concern is safety," Romaine said. He said his impression is that the legislation applied only to cars that run a red light. "Because it was sold to me that way, I was for it," he said.

Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) said the county has not yet put out bids for the equipment, so it's too early to discuss the specifics of the technology.

"I never thought about the right on red [scenario]," said Lindsay, who introduced the bill in 2001 and also the revised legislation in 2009. "But you can make a case that not making a full stop could cause an accident, too."

Lindsay said he became interested in the subject when a friend was broadsided in a "T-bone" accident and was seriously injured, spending time in a coma. She has since recovered.

Suffolk's public safety committee meeting will meet Tuesday at the Legislature Building, 725 Veterans Memorial Hwy., Hauppauge.

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