The village of Maywood is looking into placing a red-light camera at the intersection of 1st Avenue and Roosevelt Road near Proviso Math and Science Academy that would be operated by Safespeed LLC — a controversial red light camera firm with lots of political clout in Chicago and the suburbs, but that is currently a focus of inquiry in an ongoing federal investigation.
Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley stated in a Sept. 23 memo that his department conducted a traffic study with “assistance from a Chicago-based vendor on several areas in the village.” The memo doesn’t mention the vendor, but Talley said on Oct. 8 that the vendor is Safespeed.
During a presentation before the Maywood Board of Trustees on Oct. 1, Talley said that the department is obligated by state statute to “make statistical analyses related to automated traffic law enforcement systems,” but that the village is currently behind and hasn’t completed such an analysis since 2008.
“We have been able to come up with a plan to start that analysis and we’re about ready to post it to our website, as required by the state statute,” Talley said.
Last year, the Maywood Police Department released data showing that red light camera citations in Maywood increased from 2016 to 2017. In 2016, Maywood police issued 4,445 red light citations while they issued 7,539 in 2017. Roughly half of the citations issued for each year were paid.
In 2016, the village board voted to reduce the number of red light traffic cameras in Maywood, from nine to five. That year, the village also negotiated a 4-year contract with American Traffic Solutions, a private firm based in Mesa, Arizona.
Talley said in 2016 that he recommended the village reduce the number of red light cameras, because they weren’t generating any ticket revenue of their own and several of the cameras were installed in places where they weren’t particularly useful.
During the Oct. 1 regular board meeting, Talley said the first traffic study the department conducted with Speedway LLC showed a total of 262 red light turn violations over a 24-hour period on June 4 and June 5. All of the captured violations were reviewed by a technician for accuracy, Talley said, adding that the traffic safety in the area was of “grave concern” to him.
“The vendor will do another study that was supposed to have occurred right after Labor Day, but Roosevelt Road is undergoing construction,” Talley said. “There’s a big hole over there. Once that hole gets filled, they can conduct a study.”
Once the village attorney reviews a contract with Safespeed, the village board could vote on the terms at a future meeting.
Two years ago, a Chicago Tribune investigation found that state Sen. Martin Sandoval, “the chairman of the powerful Senate Transportation Committee — had interceded with the Illinois Department of Transportation on Safespeed’s behalf while also taking tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the company and its owner.”
On Sept. 24, FBI and IRS agents raided Sandoval’s home, along with his Springfield and Cicero offices.
“Agents were seeking information about Safespeed, among other companies and individuals, according to the source, who declined to discuss the specific nature of the evidence being sought,” the Tribune reports.