Winter Park hires company to monitor and audit red light traffic camera system

It’s one of those things you hate to find in the mail -- a ticket for running a red light with a picture of you behind the wheel.

“I was like, oh, I went through a red light! Didn’t even know I went through a red light,” said Lori Jones, who received a citation a few weeks ago.

Now she’s got to shell out about $150 to the city of Winter Park.

“It seems that they are to trap people,” Bennett Harmon said about the cameras.

While the system has some people frustrated, others call it a safe move.

“I like them because it keeps people honest and people should follow the rules whether there’s a policeman there or not,” said Nancy Theis.

Bottom line, the tickets are generating money for the city. Winter Park officials say it brings in about a million dollars each year and they want to make sure there are no bumps in the road for the system.

That’s why commissioners approved a $40,000 contract Monday afternoon with a company called StarTraq Limited to monitor and audit their red light cameras.

Officials say there will be no change to the citation system, but the partnership will help ensure all of their equipment is working properly. According to the contract, that will include checks on violation count spikes at intersections and how long the light is yellow.

“I look for them… I look for them everywhere,” Harmon said. “I look for the cameras and if there’s a camera there I’ll slow down and wait for that light.”

So if you are spotted by the camera and hoping to get off on a technicality, you may be out of luck in Winter Park.

“Winter Park of all the cities that we come across is definitely the harshest,” said Orlando Attorney Jordan Ostroff. “

They’re the ones who have done everything they needed to do to try and get as many people on the tickets as long as they can. More so than some of the other cities – which are a little bit more laid back about it.”

The funds approved for the contract were seized from criminal activity. Officials have already been using the monitoring and audit system for about a year under a trial period at no cost to the city.