Lawmakers sponsoring traffic camera bill inspect Elmwood cameras

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The speed cameras confiscated from the Village of Elmwood Place last month were inspected Wednesday by three state lawmakers working to have them banned in Ohio.

The cameras have been at the center of controversy since being installed in September of 2012, causing thousands of citations to be issued at $105 a piece.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman issued a permanent injunction against the cameras in March, to which Elmwood Place filed an appeal.

Judge Ruehlman ruled in June that the village was in contempt of court for continuing to operate the cameras and collect money during the appeal process. Ruehlman confiscated the speed cameras and ordered the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office to take them down.

Elmwood Place Village Police Chief William Peskin has previously stated the radar camera helps cut down on dangerous speeding and frees up police officers for other duties.

Opponents of speed cameras say they don't allow for due process, and they are being used as a cash cow for the village.

State Representatives Dale Mallory (D-Cincinnati), Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) and Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) met with Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil on Wednesday to review the cameras. The lawmakers are co-sponsoring a traffic camera bill which severely restricts the use of these cameras.

Rep. Mallory describes traffic cameras as monstrosities like something out of a 'Terminator' movie. Mallory says the sooner they're gone, the happier he will be.

"As an elected official, we have to listen to the people and the people overwhelmingly said we don't like these cameras," Mallory told FOX19.

"You are guilty of a crime. You cannot address your accuser and that is just contrary to the way we do business in the State of Ohio and the United States of America," added Rep. Maag.

Maag says the devices don't improve public safety but do generate a lot of money.

"If you look at Elmwood Place, the amount of money they made off of these cameras, they could have hired two or three more policemen, and they could have not only been doing traffic duty, but they could have been stopping people who were doing other crimes," said Maag. "These are not a safety issue. These are a money making scheme, and again, that's not what we do here. You don't punish someone for a crime with the idea of making money."

FOX19 reached out to Chief Peskin to hear his side of the traffic camera legislation. Peskin declined an on camera interview but tells us, "I think it's a bad move, and it inhibits a tool for public safety."

Peskin describes traffic cameras as a "police multiplier." He says they have "absolutely improved public safety" in Elmwood Place while in use.

The traffic cameras will remain at the sheriff's impound lot in Colerain Township until the judge releases them back to their owner.

However, officials say that is not likely to happen until the Elmwood Place contempt case is settled.

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