CANTON - The small village of East Canton is big on traffic enforcement, especially on the edge of town where its 35 mile per hour speed limit meets the state`s 55 mile per hour roads.
“If you`re not paying attention, it`s very easy to get into this city and get a ticket,” said Beachwood dentist John Blazar.
The dentist says he was enjoying a drive through the country back in 2013 when he got caught in a well-known East Canton speed trap on State Route 44 South, entering town.
Dr. Blazar went to court; certain he could prove the case was a bum rap. The officer who wrote the ticket was there too.
“I did track the vehicle for approximately two seconds before I locked the speed on 51 mile an hour,” said Officer Daniel Yaeger, who testified under oath about the traffic stop.
The doctor never denied doing 51 mph; however, he insisted he was in the county`s 55 mile an hour zone when the officer’s radar went off, not across the line in East Canton`s 35 mile per hour territory.
“It seemed to me it was like a perfect set up," Blazar told I-Team reporter Lorrie Taylor.
Police Chief Derrick Blake disagreed.
“We have signs posted, reduced speed ahead, corporation sign there, speed limits all posted,” said the Chief, responding to complaints his department was running a speed trap.
Blake claimed motorists have always been given plenty of opportunity to slow down before entering East Canton`s jurisdiction.
“It`s all about the safety,” said the chief.
He told Taylor his officers staked out the edges of town to prevent distracted drivers from racing through residential areas along Route 44.
“Many, many kids, families that live there, all their driveways come right out to the road, the chief said.
Dr. Blazar`s not the only motorist to accuse East Canton of running a speed trap.
Motorists leaving town on Route 44 logged online complaints accusing officers of sitting a few yards in front of a 55 mile per hour speed limit sign, clocking cars that began to accelerate before the higher speed limit became legal.
One complaint on SpeedTrap.com said “There is a slight grade that does a nice job in concealing their position. Please be aware. They will not let you off with a warning.'
"What about the folks who say going from 35 to 55 sets them up for a citation?" Taylor asked the chief.
"Well the village is well posted," he responded, “It`s not 55 miles per hour till you leave the municipality and everybody knows that, when they take their driver training courses, when they get their licenses.”
'You deny any sneaky intent?' asked Lorrie Taylor.
“Oh yea, we`re not doing that, that`s not happening,” responded Blake.
“Sometimes people are upset cause you stop them out here in the county and they think, why are you stopping me out here, why don`t you stop me here? Well, the violation occurred within our jurisdiction,” Chief Blake said.
That`s how a local magistrate saw it after hearing all the evidence, including a dash cam video of Dr. Blazar`s traffic stop.
:You indicated that you didn`t see any signs” the magistrate said to the dentist as he was about to pass sentence.
“But they`re there and certainly I can see them from the pictures and I think you can see them from the pictures now that you`ve seen them,” he continued.
The magistrate found Dr. Blazar guilty of going 16 miles over the speed limit, imposed a $50 fine, court costs and ordered two points be assessed to his license.