Minneapolis asks lawmakers to OK traffic enforcement cameras

A red ight camera
Minneapolis installed red light cameras as part of an effort known as PhotoCop in 2007. The city deactivated the devices after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the city's camera ordinance ran afoul of state law.
Matthew Horwood | Getty Images

Drivers in Minneapolis could see automatic red-light and speed enforcement cameras as soon as next year if Minnesota legislators make a key change to state law. City leaders are pushing to bring back the cameras after the Minnesota Supreme Court halted a short-lived program nearly two decades ago.

In 2007 the justices found that an early attempt at the effort, known as PhotoCop, conflicted with state law.

Legislation is in the works that attempts to resolve that legal conflict. If lawmakers and Gov. Tim Walz approve it, Minneapolis Vision Zero Program Coordinator Ethan Fawley said that the city is poised to install around 10 traffic enforcement cameras along high-risk streets and intersections by mid-2025.

Fawley, who leads an effort to improve traffic safety, said deaths and serious injuries have risen sharply since 2020.

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‘“What we know from other states is that traffic safety cameras can help save lives,” Fawley said at a news conference on Monday. “It’s not the only thing the city is doing on traffic safety. It’s part of our comprehensive approach that centers making street design changes, but also is addressing those increases in speeding and red light running that we’ve seen in recent years."

Fawley said speeding is the leading factor in severe crashes in Minneapolis, with red light running fourth on the list.

The city’s proposal would set fines at $40, and tickets would not go on violators’ driving records. A driver’s first violation would be a warning and not require any payment.

man in purple shirt talks
Minneapolis Vision Zero Program Coordinator Ethan Fawley speaks to reporters about the city's proposal for red-light and speed enforcement cameras on Monday.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

“It’s like a parking ticket,” Fawley said. “It cannot be grounds for arrest or losing your driver’s license even if you never pay your ticket.”

To address concerns about surveillance, Fawley said the plan prohibits the cameras from being used for anything but red light and speed enforcement, and also prohibits vehicle occupants from being photographed.

He noted that the state legislation also bans traffic camera companies from being paid based on the number of infraction notices that they send to drivers.