Slow down: Akron to place cameras near school zones for speeding drivers

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AKRON, Ohio - Akron Public Schools will kick off a new school year on Thursday with the city using portable enforcement cameras to monitor speed in school zones.

Akron Assistant Law Director Chris Reece says the city is following the latest ruling by Summit County Judge Thomas Teodosio who, in April, declared the restrictions that state lawmakers place on the use of cameras unconstitutional.

The state has since also threatened to take money away from local government funding that is equal to what the communities raise with the cameras if they are used.

Reece says the city has also successfully appealed that decision, arguing that it forces cities to comply with an unconstitutional law.

Teodosio's ruling is being challenged in the 9th District Court of Appeals.

Until then Akron's six portable cameras will be rotating through the school zones starting Thursday.

Akron Police Lieutenant Richard Decatur says the cameras will only be set up and used during a brief period of time before the school day starts and after the end of school.

They are set up and taken down by a contractor who also operates the cameras without any police officers at the scene.

Violators are issued a $100 fine.

Decatur says during the time the cameras have been used he has seen the impact they have made.

Police say the cameras will be rotating through all of the schools in the district, but they will be placed most often in the school zones where they get the most complaints.

"We receive complaints from teachers school administrators, crossing guards, parents and even sometimes students themselves about cars speeding through different school zones. When we receive a complaint about a particular school zone we will make sure we will assign a camera to the school zone."

Many of the residents of the neighborhoods near schools actually welcome the cameras.

Debbie Bellak has lived by Glover Elementary for the past 25 years and says the streets are like a raceway.

Part of the determination to use the cameras is because of the death of Tony Swain in 2005.

Swain was killed by a hit-and-run driver at the intersection of Lovers Lane and Hammel Streets while walking to school.

The driver has never been identified.

Nancy Ritch, the current principal at Glover hopes drivers are more motivated to follow the 20 mph speed limit in school zones out of concern for the children, rather than the problem of having to pay a fine.

For the first day of school, cameras will be set up at the following schools:

  • Robinson Elementary on 4th Avenue;
  • Crouse Community Learning Center on Diagonal Roar;
  • Mason Community Learning Center on East Exchange Street;
  • Betty Jane Community Learning Center on Darrow Road;
  • Findley Elementary School on Tallmadge Road;
  • Sam Salem Elementary School on West Waterloo Road in Akron