Red Light Cameras Still Up For Debate In Ohio

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The mayor of one local village has received many complaints about the presence of a speed camera, but he still believes the camera is worth having.

“We have a lot of complaints but that’s mainly because people don’t like to pay tickets, that’s obvious,” said Lowell Vance, mayor of Rutland.

The camera, located on Salem Street, near Beach Grove Road, has been in the village for years, and plays a role which police officers often can’t play because of dwindling village budgets and lack of manpower, Vance said.

The cameras aren’t a “moneymaker,” despite the need for money in his village, Vance said. The cameras serve more as a safety measure.

“All it does is catch the people who have been speeding in the village for years and years,” Vance said.

Speed cameras across the state have been facing legal opposition, which has led to discussion of the cameras in the state House of Representatives and Senate.

In November, the Ohio Senate passed legislation that would require an officer to be on scene to issue tickets that the cameras would issue, such as speeding and running red lights.

The Senate bill will go to the House for a vote, though it is not clear when that will happen.

The Senate bill requires that a law enforcement officer review the violations caught by the cameras before a ticket can be issued, only allows tickets for those caught speeding more than 10 miles per hour faster than the speed limit, with the exception of school zones and other restricted areas.

Safety studies would also be required before any camera can go in an intersection, according to the senate bill language.

Rutland has two part-time police officers who work 12 hours in a two-week period, Vance said. When a company approached the village council about putting the cameras in, he said he and the village council thought it would be beneficial for their area.

The billing of tickets goes through a branch of the company in Cleveland. The village doesn’t hear the cases or handle the paperwork, Vance said. The name of the company, who also has a contract with the village of Cheshire in Gallia County for a speed camera, could not be verified as of press time.

On a ticket given to a citizen and provided to The Messenger, a signature of someone identified as a “sergeant” is present on the ticket, but the signature is illegible, and not a member of the Rutland police force.

Tickets are $100, but do not add points to your driver’s license, according to Vance.

“So in that way, you’re lucky, even though you don’t feel you’re lucky,” Vance said.

Appeals are heard in the county court, Vance said, even though the village has had requests for the mayor or village council to hear the appeals.

The legislation that just passed the Senate would require the establishment of an appeals process to allow driver to have their cases reviewed before being found guilty.

Vance has heard the arguments that the tickets sent from a camera set up by a company do not allow those being given the tickets to confront their accuser, as is written in the Sixth Amendment. He said the village has no way of addressing that complaint.

“We’re not their accusers, the accuser is this company,” Vance said.

Residents have told the mayor that the cameras make them feel more comfortable and he has even heard of requests for more cameras.

“It’s the speeders that don’t like them,” Vance said.