DAYTON — The future of the City of Dayton’s speed and red light cameras is now in question following a May Ohio Supreme Court ruling on where ticket revenue goes.
The May 19 Supreme Court ruling permitted individual cities and towns to enforce traffic laws with cameras, however the state can withhold funds cities receive from the state.
“They basically ruled that the state legislature has the ability to deduct any revenue we would receive from the tickets out of our local government fund, which they have already cut by significant amounts,” Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein told News Center 7′s Mike Campbell.
The ruling on withheld funds means, essentially, that all ticket revenue collected by any city would instead go directly to the state, Dickstein said.
“It’s really frustrating. I think its really frustrating because this is a time when resources are really scarce. We have across the country an all-time low of police officers and recruitment,” she said.
“So trying to keep our community safe is our priority. Technology augments that precious human resource, frees up police officers to be able to focus on prevention and stopping violent crime. Which is also ticking up across our country.”
The lower numbers of officers in the force, and now the possible discontinuation of cameras, is only part of the problem as instances of reckless driving are increasing across the area and country.
“Also significant increases in reckless driving the ‘looning’ and ‘clown acts’ as I refer to them, occurring on our public roadways are very dangerous and citizens are outraged that people can behave this way and we can’t necessarily stop them or hold them accountable.”
“The lack of resources, that we now don’t have for our cameras, only magnifies the problem,” Dickstein said.
The city has choses to keep some of the cameras on for now, specifically in areas along North Gettysburg Avenue and Salem Avenue where the city knows about multiple instances of reckless driving.
“Right now we still have them on. We have strategically deployed them, in school zones, but that is the caveat we’re allowed to do. But we have them on Gettysburg and Salem where we know we’ve been having real issues with reckless traffic and driving,” Dickstein said.
“But we have to do the analysis, because at the end of the day we have to be responsible stewards of the taxpayer dollars at the same time effectuate real issues around safety in our community.”
Dickstein added the city has research that shows the cameras work and impact people’s driving habits.
“We were able to demonstrate that we had a 40 percent decrease in reckless driving and speeding or red light running. We have significant data to show that its about safety. These cameras change behavior. And that behavior creates safer environments for our community,” she said.
Some neighbors who live near and travel on North Gettysburg Avenue told Campbell they are in favor of the cameras due to all the speeding they see on a daily basis.
“Safety comes first. Speed will kill you.” Will Williams, of Dayton told Campbell.
“They do any speed, that’s why we nicknamed it the ‘Gettysburg raceway.’ I’ve seen somebody do 120 (mph) at least, motorcycles and cars,” business owner Cato Mayberry said.
Mayberry added he’s not in favor of the Supreme Court’s ruling, saying the money coming from the speed cameras should stay in Dayton.
“They got the speed cameras right there, but they don’t have no effect, I don’t think so. And the money is going to the state instead of the city, we need it here we don’t need it spread around,” Mayberry said.
While the city is keeping some of the cameras on, discussions are ongoing at City Hall about policy questions while the city works with their law experts on what to do next.
“It’s infuriating for us, who are charged with keeping our community safe that we can’t use technology like other cities and other states may be able to utilize to augment their police resources,” Dickstein said.
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