Hamilton mobile speed cameras stir up controversy

HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - Some special cameras set up in cities and towns around the state are nabbing those driving a little too fast.  But, they're also stirring up controversy.

In Hamilton, city police officials say their mobile camera is helping, and it's working for them.  In fact, their chief says the city has generated about $1 million in revenue over the last three years.

But, some opponents to these cameras say they're just not fair to drivers.

Plain and simple, the system in Hamilton is mobile and set up along the roadway, with its only job being to find people speeding.  Your car will be clocked as you pass by a white, unmarked SUV, and if you're moving faster than a set threshold, you'll get a citation in the mail.

"I have no problem saying it absolutely works here," said Hamilton Police Chief Scott Scrimizzi.

Since January, the vehicle's been stationed on roadways for a total of 72 hours.  In that time, Scrimizzi says people are slowing down.

There were 50,500 cars, roughly, that passed that car.  258 were given citations, .005% or 5 of every 1,000 cars that pass it.  I have no problem at all saying this works," said Scrimizzi.

Some lawmakers like state representative (R) Wes Retherford, are backing a bill to make cameras like this illegal.  He says it violates the Constitution.

"We were built on a society that you have the right to face your accuser.  If you're accused of breaking a criminal code, then you have the right to stand before a judge, and stand before your accuser and state your case, if you so choose.  These don't allow that," said Retherford, who represents House District 51.

On top of that, Retherford says there's no deterrent to getting a citation in the mail as there is by being pulled over.  Plus, he says 45% of these $95 tickets goes to an out-of-state company, which he'd like to see stay in Hamilton.

"If we set up the system but it was a police officer writing the ticket instead of the camera, and you left the fines the same and you got rid of the points violation, and that full $95 in the city of Hamilton stayed here in the city of Hamilton, how much more improvement can we make?  How many more police officers can we have on the road," added Retherford.

Scrimizzi says he's not sure what the city will do when a 5-year contract with a company called "Redflex" is finished, but he says in the three years they've used this system, their roads are safer.

"This is slowing people down.  It's more than fair in my opinion.  With the thresholds that are set, I think you deserve a ticket, and I can see from the statistics that we're running, that it's slowing people down, and it makes it for a safer roadway," added Scrimizzi.

In Hamilton, you'll get a ticket from one of these cameras if you're 10 MPH over in a school zone, 12 MPH over in a 25 MPH or 35 MPH zone, and 14 MPH over in a 40 MPH area.  You can contest your ticket.

As for that proposed bill to ban the cameras, there still needs to be hearings before any official legislation is passed.

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