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Red Light Camera Supporters Criticize New Bill

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSPD) -- Backers of traffic-enforcement cameras say pulling them all down over a couple of rouge communities will only make roads in Ohio more dangerous.

A bill that would ban the cameras passed the Ohio House last year, but the Ohio Senate made a change to deal with the Home Rule provision in the Ohio Constitution. It would allow the cameras to continue to be operated, but an officer would have to physically man them while being operated.

"This proposal goes far beyond being unreasonable. It is out of touch with reality. It's ludicrous," said Columbus Police Lt. Brent Mull.

He says some communities in Ohio are using the cameras correctly and are seeing positive results from them. In Columbus, Tickets at nearly every intersection where the cameras are installed have decreased over the years. The city's revenues from them has increased as more and more cameras are installed. Since 2006, the city of Columbus has seen $8.5 million from the cameras, including $2.1 million last year from over 42,400 citations.

To man each camera around the clock would require 126 police officers.

"It is in fact a ban, because there's no practical way to implement Sen. Seitz's proposal," said Assistant Public Safety Director for Columbus George Speaks.

The Ohio Fratneral Order of Police's Mike Weinman says police departments across the state are trying to operate more efficiently and these cameras help do that. He argues that Ohioans would likely rather see officers focusing on other crimes instead of red-light running.

"Those officers would have to come from somewhere else," he said.

Susan Cave, executive director of the Ohio Municipal League, would rather see lawmakers approve a bill from Sen. Kevin Bacon that would put tough regulations on the operation of the cameras. It would model cities like Columbus, Toledo, and Dayton by requiring officers, not civilians, to review each violation and decide whether or not to write a citation.

"By using safety cameras we're making use of a new technology that's out there and yet we're being criticized for taking advantage of that," she said.

She called the Seitz bill "useless."

 

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