Aurora considers using photo radar in school zones as students head back to school

AURORA, Colo. — As students in Aurora went back to school on Tuesday, city leaders were debating whether to give police officers a new tool to fight speeding in school zones.

In addition to the officers who spend time patrolling school zones before and after school, the Aurora city council will soon decide whether to spend money to operate a photo radar van in school zones.

Speeding around school is a familiar problem for several Aurora parents.

“Coming in through here I always see them speeding,” said Sunshine Martinez, who picked her child up from Hinkley High School on Tuesday. “Even when the lights are blinking they just speed through it.”

“They’ll race through here,” said Tomalesha Cooper, who lives near Aurora East Middle School with her young children.  “It’s trouble.”

It’s trouble that police are hoping to avoid by cracking down early in the school year.

“The concern is obviously the kids,” said Lt. Jeff Turner with the Aurora Police Department. “Especially this time of year, the first day of school in Aurora, you have people that are used to traffic patterns that don’t include the school kids and now today the kids are back.”

And on the same day the kids were back, the Aurora Public Safety Committee was looking into the feasibility of adding a photo radar van dedicated solely to school zones.

Lt. Turner says police studied speeding at nine different Aurora Schools and found that the city could see an estimated $256,000 in revenue from one photo enforcement van, but it would still cost the city $110,000 on top of that in order to lease and staff the van.

“It’s something we have to consider because there is a cost to having this tool,” Turner said.

The public safety committee highlighted the cost as a major hurdle and requested more statistics, including the number of injuries in school zones, but they agreed to pass the plan along to the full council for a vote.

For some parents, it’s a costly plan but worth it.

“Yeah because I think it will save a life,” Cooper said.

“I think it will (be worth it) because if (drivers) notice and they see it, I think they’d slow down and I think it would help out,” Martinez said.​