10/4/2005Ohio Senate Committee Considers Camera Ban
The Ohio Senate Transportation Committee heard opening testimony on a proposal to ban camera enforcement in the state.
The Ohio Senate Committee on Highways and Transportation today heard the first round of testimony on legislation that would effectively ban photo enforcement in the Buckeye State. The legislation, which passed the House with a 72-23 vote in May, bans the use of ticket cameras unless a police officer is present as a witness of any violation
"When I began to look into photo-enforcement in Ohio at the end of last year, it was not a stretch to say that 'camera-fever' was really heating up," explained Representative Jim Raussen (R-Springdale), the bill's sponsor. Cities including Toledo, Dayton, Middletown, Girard, Northwood, Columbus, Springfield and Cleveland either have started or have considered implementing red light cameras or speed cameras. Raussen suggested that these cities have seduced into embracing the technology by slick marketing campaigns.
"Here is the scenario," Raussen said. "A camera vendor comes to the city safety director or members of city council and talks to them about a magical program -- photo-enforcement.... Best of all, the city will not have to pay anything up-front....The camera vendor also benefits handsomely from this deal, setting up a contract where they get 60-90 percent of the fines paid as a result of the photo-enforcement program."
Raussen contends that although it is a good deal for the city and the camera vendor, citizens end up losing their constitutional protections.
"Appeals to photo-enforcement citations are generally heard by a police officer or employee of the camera company," Raussen said. "On the other hand, someone cited by an officer for the same offense would have the right to a judicial hearing."
Raussen also cited data from today's Washington Post showing accidents increased 61 percent in the District of Columbia after cameras were installed. A Senate vote on Raussen's measure could happen later this year or by the end of February.