Local lawmakers get look at Elmwood Place's cameras
UPDATE: WVXU received an email from Optotraffic saying "Elmwood Place and Optotraffic vigorously dispute the charge (that they violated the judge's order) and are anxious to present evidence to that effect."
Three very tall cameras, confiscated from the Village of Elmwood Place, are being stored at the Hamilton County Sheriff's Patrol Division. Three local lawmakers visited the cameras Wednesday to get a closer look and reiterate their opposition.
Sheriff Jim Neil showed off the speed cameras his department is forced to keep. Eventually he could charge the manufacturer, Optotraffic, $10 per camera per day for storage.
Hamilton County Judge Robert Ruehlman ordered them confiscated after ruling the Village did not turn them off after he ordered it to and continued to issue tickets. Under a pending class-action lawsuit, the Village may ultimately have to return nearly $2 million it has collected using the cameras. In the past the judge called the cameras "a sham" and said the case against the motorists is stacked.
Representatives Dale Mallory (D-Cincinnati), Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) and Wed Rutherford (R-Hamilton) agree with Judge Ruehlman.
Mallory studied the cameras and called them his accuser.
"I mean look at this," he said. "This looks like something out of a terminator movie. They look like monsters and the part that bothers me is that each time we question these cameras and say "hey, these cameras are doing the jobs of police officers," and anybody who thinks that kind of camera can replace a police officer is out of their mind."
Village Police Chief William Peskin told WVXU he defends the use of the cameras because they help free up resources to do crime prevention.
Rep. Ron Maag refutes that claim by saying, "I think if you look at Elmwood Place and the amount of money they made off of these cameras, they could have hired two or three police officers."
Sheriff Jim Neil joined Maag, Mallory and Rutherford in opposing the cameras. He said, "I feel that citations are issued by officers who witnessed violations."
House Bill 69, banning the cameras, passed earlier this year. The measure is now in the Senate.