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Toledo to refund 100-plus spurious speeding tickets

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    Toledo Police Chief Kral.

    The Blade
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    Toledo councilman Rob Ludeman, left, and Toledo Police Chef Kral.

    THE BLADE
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More than 100 people nailed for speeding in a South Toledo school zone earlier this year will have their fines refunded as the city begins a review of signs at all school zones to avoid more mistakes.

Toledo Police Chief George Kral on Thursday said anyone who received a speeding ticket from a handheld speed camera the morning of Feb. 1 on Glendale Avenue near Byrnedale school will get a refund.

RELATED ARTICLE: Councilman Ludeman's speeding ticket dismissed by Toledo police

“If they have not paid we will obviously let them know they don’t have to and if they are in default we will reach out to the company that does the collections and let them know,” the chief said. “This was a case of us being in the wrong place and us owning that we made a mistake and making it right.”

VIDEO: Blade Briefing: Ignazio Messina on dismissed speeding tickets

At-large Toledo Councilman Rob Ludeman and his wife had tickets from that morning dismissed after the citations were handed over to the chief.

Mr. Ludeman, who is running for re-election this year, said the Feb. 1 tickets — issued with handheld speed cameras — were dismissed because neither he nor his wife, Elaine, were in the school zone.

“The picture showed obviously I was two and a half blocks away when he clocked me going the speed limit for where I was,” Mr. Ludeman said. “It was quite a while away from the Byrnedale school zone.”

Mr. Ludeman said the officer was on Glendale Avenue just inside the Byrnedale school zone pointing the speed-gun camera outside of the zone, recording vehicles. Mr. Ludeman was ticketed at 9:01 a.m., and his wife was ticketed in a different vehicle at 9:08 a.m.

Thirty-eight people, including Mr. Ludeman and his wife, were ticketed at that site that morning, starting at 8:51 a.m. until 9:09 a.m. — roughly 10 minutes before and after the councilman’s ticket.

But city records obtained by The Blade show the handheld ticketing by the school that morning started at 8:17 a.m. and ended at 9:09 a.m.

In all, 115 tickets were issued during those 53 minutes. Of those, six were dismissed, 37 went into default, two said someone else was driving, and 70 people already paid the $120 fine.

David Bruckner was among the 115 people who got tickets on Feb. 1 ostensibly in the Byrnedale school zone. His ticket was clocked at 9:02 a.m. that day. He also got a ticket two days earlier, on Jan. 30, at that same location. Both times, Mr. Bruckner said the police officer was in the same location so he is going to ask for a refund from that ticket.

“I will definitely ask now that I know,” Mr. Bruckner said.

Thirty-eight people including Mr. Bruckner were ticketed for speeding in that school zone on Jan. 30. Of those people, 25 already paid in full.

Eighteen people were ticketed for speeding near the same school on Feb. 10, 47 people were ticketed on Feb. 14, and 35 on Feb. 15.

Karl Marshall of Maumee was ticketed for speeding in the Byrnedale school zone site at 8:34 a.m. Feb. 15.

Mr. Marshall, who already paid his $120 fine, said he would ask for a refund.

“I didn’t think I was in the school zone either,” he said. “I went back after ... so I think I will do that.”

The city issued 29,615 tickets with the handheld devices between Jan. 1 and May 26 — the period of time the tickets were reviewed by The Blade.

Of those 29,615 tickets, 2,996 were issued in school zones. Little Flower Elementary School on Dorr Street was the most popular place to catch speeders during that time. There were 930 citations at that location during the nearly five months.

Councilman Larry Sykes got one of the tickets in front of Little Flower at 2:12 p.m. Feb. 1. He paid the $120 fine.

The Byrnedale school zone was the second most popular place for catching speeders with the devices. There were 489 citations in the five-month period at that site.

Toledo police Lt. Joe Heffernan said signs marking the Byrnedale school were not clear.

“We will go through all the school zones to make sure they are clearly marked so people know when to slow down,” he said. “It is important for us to do speed enforcement in school zones because these are our children and we don’t want people flying through there.”

While the department is refunding all the Feb. 1 Byrnedale school zone tickets, it is not reviewing the validity of all school zone tickets.

“There is a review that is done before the ticket is issued,” Lieutenant Heffernan said. “There is also an appeals process if someone feels the ticket is in error. We can’t go back and review everything. We believe it was done properly and this [at Byrnedale] was an exception to what normally happens. It came to our attention and we took corrective action.”

The Lucas County Democratic Party Thursday attacked Mr. Ludeman, a Republican, claiming he abused his power by asking the chief to address the tickets.

“Rob used his position of power and influence to go right to Police Chief Kral to have him dismiss the tickets,” said a statement from party chairman Joshua Hughes. “Councilman Ludeman did not approach the chief of police to raise issue with the fact that more than 60 motorists in his home district may have been improperly cited for speeding. Not at all, Councilman Ludeman only asked that his and his wife’s tickets be taken care of, and the rest of the motorists left to fend for themselves. ”

Mr. Ludeman said he asked the chief to address the issue to be sure officers in the future were positioned properly at that school zone.

He also said he assumed the other drivers that morning would have the tickets dismissed and any fines refunded.

Chief Kral said Mr. Ludeman did not act improperly and did not get special treatment.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.

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