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Perrysburg Township to use handheld traffic cameras

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Perrysburg Township officials are preparing to implement handheld traffic cameras to catch speeding motorists.

Township Trustee Joe Schaller said the cameras would be safer for officers and less invasive for people who are speeding because officers would not need to pull over the motorists to give them tickets.

The camera would capture the vehicle, license plate, speed, and time of day the offense occurred, and then tickets would be issued by mail.

“We do have some problem areas on speeding,” he said.

Trustees approved the cameras in the spring, and the program is scheduled to go live in the fall, he said. At this point, the township plans to get two cameras, and the company that supplies them — Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems — will receive a percentage of citation money in exchange for providing the equipment.

Mr. Schaller said these are handheld cameras, which must be operated by an officer, and not automatic cameras. The township doesn’t use automatic traffic cameras.

The whole idea behind the program, he said, was to get some of the speeding within the township under control with as little invasion to motorists as possible and while keeping officers safe.

Lt. Dave Nixon with the Perrysburg Township Police Department said other agencies have used handheld cameras successfully, and officers in the township thought the cameras could work in their community, too.

Officials are still working out the details with representatives from Redflex, Lieutenant Nixon said. When the cameras are ready to be used, for the first 30 days, speeding motorists will receive warnings instead of citations in order to get residents used to the new system.

Lieutenant Nixon acknowledged that automatic traffic cameras have caused debate across Ohio, including in Toledo. Earlier this year, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the state could impose financial penalties against cities that use automatic traffic cameras, which prompted Toledo to file a lawsuit against the state.

The Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling came after both Lucas County Common Pleas Court and Ohio's 6th District Court of Appeals previously found that state lawmakers could not enact laws that financially penalize cities like Toledo that operate the cameras for traffic enforcement.

“The state cannot prohibit or regulate municipalities from utilizing automated traffic cameras, and it cannot directly or indirectly enforce unconstitutional laws by withholding or threatening to withhold local government funds if the unconstitutional laws are not followed,” Toledo’s complaint asserts.

At this point, handheld traffic cameras are excluded from the state’s restrictions. But Lieutenant Nixon said if that ever changed, the township would comply with regulations.

“We’ll just follow the law if it changes,” he said.

Contact Kate Snyder at ksnyder@theblade.com, 419-724-6282 or on Twitter @KL_Snyder

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