It's hardly a shocker, but today HPD Chief Charles A. McClelland said he is saddened thatvoters struck down
the red light camera program earlier this month, and that the decision will strain his budget and possibly put public safety at risk.
"I guess I can interpret from the vote that people think running a red light is dangerous, but that they want officers to catch them," McClelland said. "I'm disappointed that the proposition was defeated, but I understand it and I accept it."
That doesn't mean, however, that it will be easy for HPD to recover fully from the estimated $5 million that it will not have from now until the end of June, said the chief.
"I will have to continue on with traffic enforcement in this city," McClelland said, "I'll just have to do it with officers now." The problem, however, is that "I don't have extra officers sitting around. The loss of this technology will stretch my resources."
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He said that officers will now have to be pulled from neighborhood patrol to police the traffic laws. This could potentially impact safety in those neighborhoods.
McClelland also concedes that his overall budget will suffer.
"It will be a challenge," he said. "We'll have to look at every option we can to make up that budget loss. We will have to cut something. I have to make it work."
Roughly 95 percent of HPD's budget goes to personnel, said McClelland. Possible cuts may include overtime pay and various crime prevention programs, he said. When asked about officer layoffs, McClelland said that decision would be made by Mayor Annise Parker.