Camera Police - It's The Law For Ohio Cities Using Traffic Cameras

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The Northeast Ohio Village of Newburgh Heights has a long-standing reputation as a speed trap. But after it installed traffic cameras the number of speeders dropped 30 percent, according to Mayor Trever Elkins.

Elkins: "And not only are people slowing down where the cameras are, they're slowing down in the entire community."

The mayor says that's why the city will keep the cameras and has hired six additional officers who's sole duty will be to park themselves near them. So, is that an efficient use of an officer's time?

Elkins: "My opinion is, no. The entire purpose of the photo monitoring service is so you shouldn't have or don't need a police officer present."

But as the mayor says, the law's the law. If the legislature wants redundancy, he says he'll give 'em redundancy.

So, what will the camera police be doing? That's not exactly clear as Akron's Assistant Law Director, Christopher Reece interprets it.

Reece: "Ironically, the statute doesn't say what this police officer has to do. It just says merely says they have to be present. Doesn't say they have to be looking at anything. You begin to question what's the value of that. The speeder is still going to be photographed by the camera and they'll still be issued a citation in the mail."

Akron is one of several cities challenging the new law in court.

Should they win and get the traffic camera restrictions lifted, it could come back to haunt them. A key sponsor of the law, state Republican Senator William J. Seitz, suggested that the legislature might make cuts to Akron's portion of the "local government fund."

We asked Reece if he'd call that bullying.

Reece: (laughs) "I can't disagree with the term, right. It's not a legal term but, yea. You want to call it bullying, you want to call it a veiled threat? That's certainly what it sounded like to us and we cited it in our brief as just further evidence that there's another agenda here."

Cleveland has taken a different route. After voters here overwhelming rejected use of traffic camera ticketing in last November's election, the city turned them off and has no current plans to revive the issue.

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