Lawmaker wants to red light traffic cams in certain Ohio communities

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - A state lawmaker wants to put the brakes on the use of traffic cameras in some Ohio communities.

Republican State Representative Tom Patton says he believes some cities are using them to collect money, rather than promote safety.

In 2014, Cleveland residents voted to ban traffic cameras in the city, and shortly after that, the state put limitations on how they are used.

A Newburgh Heights police officer is often seen conducting speed enforcement using a camera on Interstate 77 from the Harvard Road overpass.

Under current Ohio law, cities can use traffic cameras if a police officer is also present to witness the violation.

"I think they should be illegal and done away with," said one driver.

"I got a ticket from over here. I wasn't driving the car; somebody else was driving the car and I'm like, well, why am I responsible for the ticket if I'm not driving the car, so that's my beef with the cameras," said another.

"In my estimation, this is a bunch of small communities using it as a cash grab to pay their bills and we don't think that's proper law enforcement," State Rep. Patton told Fox 8 over the phone.

Tuesday, Patton, from Strongsville, introduced four bills designed to limit the use of traffic cameras in Ohio.

"We think having the police on the road visible is more of a deterrent than getting a ticket in the mail 30 days later; it's not much of a deterrent if you're driving fast, maybe even driving under the influence and someone takes a picture of you driving under the influence or driving too fast," he said.

The bills Patton sponsored would not allow a municipality to operate traffic cameras if it has no fire department or EMS or if it has a population below 200.

Also, the number of tickets issued can't be more than twice the population and the money it brings in can't exceed 30-percent of total revenue.

"I think it's nonsense," said Newburgh Heights Mayor Trevor Elkins.

The mayor says although the city has just over two thousand residents, 120-thousand vehicles travel through the community every day.

"We have home rule in Ohio. It is for the jurisdictions to make sure we enforce public safety; that's what we're doing. I don't think his legislation has any legs," Elkins said.

Rep. Patton says the same bills were introduced during the last general assembly session, but time ran out before lawmakers could consider them.

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