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9NEWS reports erroneous information after Denver Police give wrong photo red-light statistics

8:43 PM, Feb 22, 2012   |    comments
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We profiled Denver and Aurora, talked about whether drivers had to pay those tickets and how much the cities made in revenue.

It wasn't a story 9NEWS worked on over one or two days; 9NEWS Crime and Justice reporter Anastasiya Bolton collected statistics and interviews over a month-long period.

When she started looking into the story at the end of August 2011, Bolton asked Denver Police for red light revenue for the 2011 budget year.

DPD said from January 2011 through August of 2011, it collected $279,576.64. Revenue from December of 2010 was included in January and February of 2011.

9NEWS political reporter Brandon Rittiman was reporting from the State Capitol Tuesday on the subject of red-light cameras.

He asked the police department for statistics and their documents reports more than $2 million revenue for the entire budget year. This led 9NEWS to question the numbers that were reported in October.

"Let me apologize," Sonny Jackson, spokesman for the Denver Police Department, said. "We did give you the figure for the [single] month of August, so the person who looked at it is not an accountant unfortunately. He misread the paperwork. The number we gave you was $279 [thousand] - that was actually for the month of August. Year-to-date should [have] been $1.2 million at that time. "

Jackson says the police sergeant who provided the number mistakenly looked at the wrong line, the line that was shown in bold type.

"Truly, I have no intention to mislead Channel 9 or the public," Jackson said, "and I think that's where we really have been concerned, because we want the public to have the clearest picture of what revenue is being generated, how the program is working because the program is going to exist for a while. We need to be as transparent as we can about how it exists."

Denver Police say the program exists not to generate revenue but to create a culture of safety.

Denver Police tell us next time they give us numbers we ask for they'll be looking at them more closely.

The revenue the program generates is still small compared with the overall size of the entire budget for the city and county of Denver, which is $1.4 billion dollars.

Tuesday, state legislators rejected a proposal to ban red-light and photo radar cameras in Colorado.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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