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Clevelanders to Have Their Say on Traffic Cameras

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 5:30 PM

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Many drivers complain about the use of traffic cameras that automatically dole out tickets for speeding and running red lights. But many municipalities like them, saying they save time and effort by police to keep the roads safe. Now Cleveland voters are likely have their say. ideastream’s Joanna Richards has more.

Activists against the cameras have turned in signatures of more than 13,000 Clevelanders to the Cuyahoga Board of Elections. If certified, those are thousands more than they need to get their proposed charter amendment on the ballot in November.

The measure would require a police officer to be present near a traffic camera, and issue the ticket directly to the motorist at the time of the violation. That would effectively kill the use of the cameras by removing them as an efficient alternative to in-person policing.

Maryanne Petranek helped lead the petition drive. She said the automated nature of the cameras means people don’t get a chance to challenge their accuser in court.

“It completely violates the due process of citizens,” she said.

And the technology can’t make judgment calls. Petranek said one person told her he was in a funeral procession when he got caught. “As they came through, the light had turned red, and they ended up with one of these tickets coming in the mail,” she said.

Critics also say the main purpose for the cameras is to generate revenue for local government.

The battle against traffic cameras in Cleveland has been part of a statewide effort led by Cincinnati attorney and conservative activist Chris Finney.

Opponents, including some on city council, say a referendum isn’t needed, since the legality of the cameras is before the state Supreme Court, and a proposed statewide ban may come up for a vote in the legislature this fall.

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