Republican city councilman and mayoral contender Tom Waniewski suggested last week that the city ought to use its speed cameras to discourage speeding rather than to fill the city’s coffers.
Speed cameras have a troubled history in Toledo. The city has been in a legal battle over their use with the Ohio General Assembly, which passed several provisions limiting how cities can use the devices. But a recent Ohio Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for Toledo to keep using both the stationary cameras mounted at intersections and the handheld devices operated by police officers.
This summer it came to light that in at least one instance, drivers were unfairly ticketed for speeding in a school zone when the officer clocking them with a speed camera was actually using the device outside of a school zone.
Around the same time, it was revealed that more than half the tickets issued thanks to handheld speed camera enforcement in the city of Toledo were issued to drivers who do not live in Toledo.
And finally, also this summer, city officials happily announced that Toledo had collected more than $2.2 million in handheld speed camera ticket fines by the end of June — roughly 97 percent of the $2.3 million budgeted for 2017.
So Mr. Waniewski’s notion that the city should stop using the cameras as a revenue-generator and instead make the best use of them — as a safety device — is welcome, particularly among the driving public.
Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson, who is running for re-election, often describes safe, livable neighborhoods as one of her priorities. Safe, livable neighborhoods have safe residential streets where children are not in danger from speeding traffic.
Everyone knows of a few streets in their neighborhoods where residents routinely have to complain to authorities about speeders.
Ms. Hicks-Hudson’s campaign manager said he trusts the police chief to choose the best spots for speed cameras. No one is questioning the police chief’s judgment, but the mayor has the authority and responsibility to set policies for the use of devices like speed cameras.
The cameras can only make the city safer if they’re used to slow down drivers on the neighborhood streets where speeding is most dangerous, not if they’re deployed away from neighborhood streets in areas meant to catch the most out-of-town drivers as possible to rake in revenue.
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