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St. Louis Board of Aldermen approves red-light cameras, traffic safety fund

A red light camera.
Madison County Transit
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen's Bill 105, sponsored by Alderman Shane Cohn, will bring back red light cameras to the city.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen ended its current legislative session Monday by passing long-awaited traffic and police surveillance ordinances.

Board Bill 185, sponsored by Alderman Rasheen Aldridge, will provide regulation of surveillance technology by police; Board Bill 105, sponsored by Alderman Shane Cohn, will bring back red-light cameras; and 105’s sibling, Board Bill 106, will create a neighborhood traffic improvement fund.

“Smart technologies like the ones covered in the Automated Camera Enforcement Act are a necessary tool in our city’s ability to combat reckless driving,” said Mayor Tishaura Jones in a statement Monday. “My administration has worked diligently to make certain these technologies will be used solely to reduce traffic violence, and not target already vulnerable populations.”

“I’m looking forward to signing this legislation into law and taking the next step forward in ensuring that everyone feels safe navigating St. Louis on foot, by bike, by public transit, or by car,” Jones said.

Since the camera bills were first introduced in September 2023, Jones said at least four people have died and more than 100 have been injured in traffic crashes. Concerns over traffic safety led St. Louis officials to consider an option the city first tried in 2007: installing automated cameras to catch traffic violators and deter others. The ordinance in 2015 faced scrutiny in Missouri’s Supreme Court and was struck down as unconstitutional, but officials said they expect changes they made will stand up in court.

Bill 185 requires that the Board of Aldermen have the final say regarding which surveillance technologies are approved after a public hearing is conducted.

Jones issued an executive order in February that required police to provide a detailed report on the types of surveillance tools they use and the costs associated. She said previously she was forced to take action due to how concerns about surveillance have held up the passage of the red-light camera bills.

The next legislative session of the board begins Tuesday.

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Megan Green on Monday said the focus moving into the new legislative session will be on protecting workers’ rights.

She also praised the board for its work in the just-concluded session.

“[Since] this time last year, we’ve invested in modernizing the ways we work and giving members of the public more ways to participate in the process. We’ve scaled up our staff capacity to manage an ambitious workload and better serve our constituents. And perhaps most importantly, we became a more policy-oriented board capable of addressing citywide issues with innovative and community-led solutions.”

Green said these types of changes are vital to reshaping the city. She recalled the Good Jobs First report, which found that tax breaks for property developers across St. Louis and St. Louis County have cost Black, poor and disabled students in public schools more than $260 million over the last six years.

“We have made it clear that this body will use its authority to leverage tax abatements in favor of workers and schools,” Green said. “The Good Jobs First report released earlier this year detailed how the current process has hollowed out public schools and widened disparities between Black and brown students.”

Lacretia Wimbley is a general assignment reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.