Court rules against traffic cameras; Ohio considering ban

Published: Thursday, March 07, 2013 @ 5:55 PM
Updated: Thursday, March 07, 2013 @ 5:55 PM

Ohio communities with traffic cameras

Akron: Speed

Ashtabula: Red light, speed

Cleveland: Red light, speed

Columbus: Red light, speed

Dayton: Red light, speed

East: Cleveland Red light, speed

Elmwood Place: Speed

Hamilton: Speed

Middletown: Red light

New Miami: Speed

Northwood: Red light, speed

Parma: Speed

Springfield: Red light

Toledo: Red light, speed

Trotwood: Red light, speed

West Carrollton: Red light, speed

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

States that have banned speed cameras

Arkansas*, Maine*, Mississippi*, Montana*, Nevada*, New Hampshire*, New Jersey, South Carolina*, Texas, Utah, West Virginia*, Wisconsin*

*also prohibits red light cameras

Source: Governors Highway Safety Association

What do you think of proposal to ban traffic cameras in Ohio?

We asked our followers on Facebook what they think of red-light and speeding cameras. Join the converstation at Here’s some of the comments:

Brian Pugh: I have no problem with them. They are taking care of writing tickets and freeing up the police to do real work. Stop signs and speed limits are not a suggestion, they are the law that we all agree to live by.

Angela Coffey: The speed cameras are not above reproach. They should be banned or at least challenged.

Barry Takacss: I know when I see them I won’t do business near that intersection, buy gas or go to a restaurant.

Todd Shiverdecker: I know it has caused me to drive slower. Being afraid I will forget I am driving by one has caused me to slow down in general.

Melanie Gibson: Don’t break the law, and you don’t have to worry.

Umar Ali You do not have to remove the cameras, simply pass a state law where the length of a yellow light may not be shorter than a certain length of time and the cameras will become unprofitable.

Twana Downey: Got a ticket running a red light. It was well deserved and I paid my fine. I’m in favor of cameras.

Dougie Imfeld: I think lawmakers who want to ban them must have begun receiving fines because of them.

Sue Borror Strickland Firman: I honestly don’t see anything wrong with them. At least you don’t have a cop chasing you down to be gawked at by all passing by.

The days of red light and speed cameras at Ohio intersections could be numbered.

A Hamilton County Court judge ruled Thursday that a traffic camera ordinance in a small village near Cincinnati is invalid and unenforceable. Lawmakers are also proposing a state law banning all traffic cameras in Ohio.

Only 2,188 people live in Elmwood Place, according to the 2010 census, but cameras have caught more than 20,000 drivers speeding through town since cameras were installed in September 2012. Civil citations issued for the violations have generated about $1.5 million, according to Police Chief William Peskin. Peskin said the village has kept about $900,000, with the rest going to Maryland-based Optotraffic.

In his decision, Judge Robert Ruehlman noted the lack of signage to warn motorists and that cameras are calibrated only once per year by the for-profit camera operator.

“Elmwood Place is engaged in nothing more than a high-tech game of 3-card Monty,” Ruehlman wrote. “It is a scam that motorists can’t win.”

There’s no state law on the books allowing or prohibiting cameras that detect speeding and red-light violations.

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced to prohibit the traffic cameras in Ohio. Bill sponsor Rep. Ron Maag, R-Lebanon, said sending millions out of Ohio has been a poor business decision and that money would be better spent on law enforcement and public safety.

“For $800,000, you could have two or three officers sitting there, who could protect people from all other mayhem,” Maag said.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 2008 in favor of allowing the cameras, arguing the cameras operated as an extension of local law enforcement. But the court did not address the method of ticketing vehicle owners instead of drivers. Citations are not reported against a motorist’s driving privileges or insurance.

“To me it’s un-American — you are guilty until proven innocent vs. innocent until proven guilty,” Maag said.

Dayton collected about $2.4 million from camera citations in 2012. Dayton keeps about $55 of the $85 civil citation and sends the rest to Phoenix-based RedFlex Traffic Systems. RedFlex also operates cameras in Hamilton, Middletown, Springfield, Trotwood and West Carrollton.

Springfield issued 6,638 citations in 2012 and generated $287,784 from paid tickets. Hamilton uses speed cameras mounted on an SUV and 20,782 citations were issued between March 31, 2010 and Jan. 31, 2013, generating $958,636. In the small Butler County community of New Miami, police have given more than 9,700 violations since installing two mobile speed cameras in the village Oct. 1 and collected more than $210,000.

Middletown’s 14 red-light cameras — located at eight “high accident” intersections in the city — generated $186,580 for the city’s general fund in 2012.

A 2011 study conducted by Dayton city officials showed the number of traffic accidents dropped by a combined 23 percent compared to the year before each intersection received its camera.

“It’s not pleasant but that’s how behaviors change,” Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said. “People have said since they got them, they’ve slowed down and that’s the point.”

Biehl said the number of officers has declined nearly 20 percent since 2007 and cameras are one way to increase effectiveness of a smaller force.

“To not utilize this technology, particularly in this era of significant decline of sworn police officers, means we’re going to need to respond to more auto accidents that take our time away from more critical public safety duties.”

Maag said cameras contribute to more accidents than they prevent because drivers slam on the brakes to avoid citations, citing research collected by the National Motorists Association. The Wisconsin-based nonprofit, which also opposes seat belt laws, boasts a study claiming insurance companies support cameras because they cause crashes and, in turn, enable them to charge higher insurance premiums.

Springfield Police Sgt. Brett Bauer said the number of rear-end accidents might increase, but the cameras reduce the number of injury-producing accidents.

Staff writer Ed Richter contributed to this report.

Fight outside Kettering bar leaves man in hospital

Published: Sunday, February 26, 2017 @ 4:54 PM

Fight outside Kettering bar leaves man in hospital

Police in Kettering are investigating a fight that happened late Saturday night outside Elsa’s, 1216 E Stroop Road, that has left one man as a patient at Kettering Medical Center.

An altercation between two parties happened in the parking lot outside the sports bar and restaurant and the suspected attackers fled before officers arrived, according to Kettering Police Spokesman John Jung.

The altercation was between a party of three and a larger party comprising eight to 12 people, according to Elsa’s owner Jason Hemmert.

Hemmert said both parties had cashed out before the altercation occurred outside the bar. He said he was unaware of anything happening inside the bar to precipitate a fight.

 “It's very unfortunate any time anyone gets hurt in any situation,” Hemmert said. “We don't know what was said between the two parties out in the parking lot.”

Investigators are reviewing video of the incident that was captured on a cell phone, Jung said.

One of the alleged victims, Lee Arron Jackson, is recovering at the Kettering Medical Center. He spoke to this newsroom today over the phone about what happened. 

Jackson said he is in a lot of pain, that his orbital socket was fractured and he may need plastic surgery to fix it.

He said the conflict arose after his friend was leaving the bar and told the large group to “simmer down.” He said the large group had been loud and had been complaining about President Donald Trump.

Jackson said he intervened when he saw three people leave the large group and follow his friend out to the parking lot.

“We got swarmed,” Jackson said. “I had six strangers beating me up ... I remember feeling something break in my face ... I remember asking them why they were doing this.”

Police have not announced that any arrests have been made. 

Dayton native injured in Mardi Gras parade crash

Published: Sunday, February 26, 2017 @ 12:44 AM

A Dayton-area native is recovering from injuries she sustained when a car crashed into a crowd of Mardi Gras spectators in New Orleans Saturday night. 

Kaitlin Greetham, a former Bellbrook Jr. High student, was among a group of nearly two dozen people who were injured while attending the Krewe of Endymion parade.

Kaitlin posted on her Facebook page, “I am OK,” that she was on pain medication at the hospital and awaiting test results.

Greetham's mother told this news outlet her daughter was injured when a truck drove into the crowd. Her mother says Greetham is conscious and alert as the family awaits x-ray and scan results. 

Greetham, who has worked as a nurse in New Orleans since the early 2000s, took to Facebook Saturday night to let friends now she is alright and recovering in the hospital. Greetham has family living in the Dayton area.

Members of a local high school band were also performing during an unrelated Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans Saturday night. 

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Grand jury to hear case of 2nd suspect in meth investigation

Published: Sunday, February 26, 2017 @ 3:26 PM

            Grand jury to hear case of 2nd suspect in meth investigation

The case of the second of two men facing felony drug charges after a pound of methamphetamine was found in a truck they were in will now be considered by a Butler County grand jury.

Francisco Torres-Davila, 33, charged with trafficking in drugs and possession of drugs, waived his right to a preliminary hearng Friday in Middletown Municipal Court. The case was then automatically sent to a grand jury for consideration.

MORE: $36,000 worth of meth found in vehicle in Middletown

Butler County Undercover Regional Narcotics Task seized a pound of crystal-meth after observing some individuals engaged in what appeared to be a “drug transaction” in a 2008 Dodge truck in the parking lot of Auto Zone located at Roosevelt Boulevard and Marshall Road on Feb. 14

Also arrested was Ramon Sanchez-Reyes, 27, for the same charges. His case has also been sent to a grand jury. Bond is set at $200,000 for both men.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said both men admitted to be in the country illegally.

Case of man accused in fatal Middletown shooting moves to grand jury

Published: Sunday, February 26, 2017 @ 2:43 PM

            Case of man accused in fatal Middletown shooting moves to grand jury

A Butler County grand jury will now consider the case of a man charged with murder for allegedly shooting a man at a recording studio on Feb. 16.

Willie Boyd Jr., 21, of addresses in Dayton and Franklin, is accused of firing three rounds from a handgun hitting Jamelle C. Willis, 29, in the back during an argument at 2014 Tytus Ave.

Boyd fled from the scene, but turned himself into Middletown police after a warrant for his arrest was issued. He was arraigned in Middletown Municipal Court the next day where bond was set at $250,000.

MORE: Man fatally shot after argument inside Middletown business

On Friday, Boyd was back in court for a preliminary hearing. After the hearing, Visiting Judge Robert Taylor found sufficient evidence to bind the case over to a grand jury for consideration. Bond remains the same.

The sign on the business says Razors Edge, but business cards in the window indicate it is a recording studio called Collective Studio Inc. with Boyd listed as studio director.

When officers arrived at about 2 a.m. Feb. 16, they found Willis dead on the floor.

Detectives said there were additional patrons inside the business who fled prior to the police arriving on the scene.