NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has found crashes have gone up in a section of I-77 notorious for speed camera tickets.

Yet, officials there have said, repeatedly, the tickets make the highway safer.

Statistics from the Ohio State Highway Patrol show the number of crashes has gone up the last two years on I-77 in Newburgh Heights.

For years, the village has said police make the highway safer by sending out tens of thousands of speed camera tickets.

But, Newburgh Heights has never shared with us a traffic safety study, so we did our own.

We checked with the highway patrol for crashes in I-77 in Newburgh Heights since you see a cop standing there with a camera for hours at a time.

Records show, in that stretch in 2020, there was a total of 24 crashes. In 2021, there was a total of 29 crashes and last year, 40.

Nearly a quarter of the crashes last year were speed-related. That’s the same number as back in 2018.

We shared our findings with Todd Vitek. We recently showed you, Newburgh Heights twice sent him a ticket meant for someone else. He got the wrong ticket with a $180 fine twice.

“I don’t think it’s about safety. I think it’s about money,” Vitek said.

He reacted to our findings about crashes by saying, “Safety, yeah, I don’t see any proof of that. So, I don’t think these cameras in Newburgh Heights are doing a bit of good.”

Records show an increase in crashes in Newburgh Heights, but consider the numbers statewide.

Highway patrol records show, overall in Ohio, crashes went down slightly. For the last two years in Cuyahoga County, the number is virtually unchanged.

Meantime, for months, the Mayor of Newburgh Heights has refused to talk to us. We’ve asked many times to discuss the village’s use of speed cameras.

Of course, also for this story, we reached out to leaders of Newburgh Heights. Once again, the mayor is not talking about this. She did, however, say she wants the I-Team to apologize for trying to talk to her before a Memorial Day parade.

The police chief is not talking either. Police Chief John Majoy said the mayor will not allow village employees to speak to the media.

But last month, the mayor had to go before a judge at a hearing on the speed cameras.

Judge Deborah Nicastro had found Newburgh Heights breaking the law in how the town sent out camera tickets and collected fines.

The judge told the mayor that the village has to follow the rules or the speed cameras might have to be shut down.

“This is not just a money-making for-profit process,” Judge Nicastro said at the hearing.

While Newburgh Heights has never shared with us any traffic safety study, we have seen studies from other police departments using speed cameras. For instance, Mayfield Village and Gates Mills.

Now, the I-Team has found more crashes on I-77 where so many of you get speed camera tickets — even the wrong ones.

Vitek had the tickets sent to him in error cleared up by the court so he didn’t have to pay any fines.

“They’re trying to get a lot of money out of this whole deal,“ Vitek said.