Parma Heights red light and speed cameras back in operation

PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio - More red light and speed cameras are returning to Northeast Ohio, with Parma Heights among the communities now turning the controversial cameras back on.

As of June 1, the cameras at the intersection of Pearl Road and Stumph Road-York Road were put back in operation for a month-long grace period. Violators will be cited beginning July 1.

"I'm not happy about it," Parma Heights resident Jennifer Galletti said. "I just feel like there should be a police officer there if you're going to get a ticket."

Speeders will be fined $200 and people running a red light or turning right on a red light without stopping will be fined $100, but drivers will not receive points on their licenses for the traffic violation.

Last year, the Ohio Supreme Court overturned a state law requiring that a police officer be present at the site of a traffic enforcement camera as a violation of home rule, essentially ruling state lawmakers can't restrict cities' use of the cameras.

The cameras are a big revenue generator for Parma Heights. According to city records, the stationary red light and speed cameras generated about $165,000 in revenue during 2014, their last year in operation.

The city has continued operating a mobile police SUV outfitted with speed cameras, which generated about $440,000 in 2017.

"It's definitely a safety issue first and foremost, but I'm not going to pretend it isn't also a revenue enhancer," said

Parma Heights Mayor Michael Byrne. "If you're not speeding, if you're not running a red light, you've got nothing to worry about."

Byrne said each ticket is reviewed by a Parma Heights police officer and the camera vendor before a citation is issued, and drivers can appeal in court.

"The tickets that would be issued are no different than if a patrolman was sitting there and watching, it's just that it's caught on the camera," Byrne said.

However, some drivers worry the cameras create a hazard with drivers slamming on their brakes.

"I think it's going to create an accident, really, from people trying not to get a ticket," Galletti said.

In response to the Supreme Court decision, state lawmakers have proposed a law that would move revenue from traffic camera fines from cities to the courts, removing the financial incentive for the cameras. The bill is currently in a Senate Committee.

**More on red light traffic cameras in Northeast Ohio here**