AKRON — Most red light and speed enforcement cameras across Ohio could soon be threatened with the signature of the governor on a bill that has passed through both the Ohio State Senate and House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 342 creates new requirements for cities that operate the cameras, making them more burdensome and expensive.
“It’s going to make it difficult to continue operation of the system as it is in place now. It imposes additional responsibilities on a city to operate the system: public information campaigns, notice to citizens. It creates additional options to citizens who receive a citation. It imposes additional requirements on an (appeal) hearing,” explained Akron Assistant Law Director Christopher Reece.
The City of Akron has only six portable cameras that rotate through school zones, but another piece of the new bill could make having even six cameras too expensive for the city to operate.
The bill permits cameras ‘only if a law enforcement officer is present at the location of the device at all times during the operation of the device.’
State Representative Zack Milkovich of Akron is a co-sponsor of the bill and says he is representing the will of his constituents.
He believes having a police officer present would be more of a deterrent for speeders.
He also believes the system, as it has been operated across the state, denies accused drivers their due process.
“You are guilty and you have to prove yourself innocent and it tickets the car and not the driver so when you go to court you can’t face your accuser because your accuser is a machine,” said Milkovich by phone on Tuesday.
Reece says even with just six cameras, the City of Akron would have trouble dedicating officers to all of them.
“Now they are going to have to designate six full-time officers who otherwise would be doing other things to basically sit there and monitor a camera,” said Reece.
The bill also takes the appeals process for camera citations to municipal courts. Reece says that could threaten to overwhelm the courts, which do not currently handle such appeals.
While the bill is viewed as the end for most traffic cameras across Ohio, not all traffic cameras would be gone.
Parma is an example of a city that already has officers assigned to each of its cameras and Milkovich says it has worked well for them.
All that is needed for the new bill to become law is a stroke of the governor’s pen and there is every indication he intends to sign it when it crosses his desk.