ELO eyes traffic cams

EAST LIVERPOOL — In response to concerns raised by council members about drivers speeding through the city, a photo monitoring system is being considered for use by the police department.

Service-Safety Director Brian Allen presented to city council’s recreation/ordinance committee Tuesday information about a DragonCam portable photo-laser speed enforcement system, essentially a camera that snaps photos of speeding vehicles resulting in tickets being issued.

Allen said Councilman Fred Rayl and others have voiced their concern about speeders, leading to investigation into this system.

While it still requires a police officer to hold the camera, drivers are not stopped, nor do officers have to spend time writing tickets, all of which are accomplished via the hand-held camera.

The system will not cost the city anything, with the DragonCam company receiving a percentage of the ticket revenue collected, traditionally in a 60/40 split, with the city receiving the higher amount.

Allen said negotiations would have to be held to determine the exact split but said, “There is zero cost to the city.”

Police Chief John Lane called it a “win-win” proposition, noting there is no cost to his department, the company pays overtime costs for the officer who mans the camera and the camera and company do “all the work.”

Every entrance to the city would be marked with signage, warning drivers of the camera’s use, with those signs also paid for by DragonCam.

The chief has final approval or denial of all tickets issued. Drivers would be allowed to travel 10 miles over the posted speed limit (six miles over in school zones) before being ticketed.

While some court cases have arisen from camera-generated tickets, Allen said the Supreme Court has ruled that, as long as the camera is held by an officer, it is legal.

Dave Damaso, who heads the local landlord association, spoke from the audience, asking if the idea behind this plan is to increase revenue, but Allen replied, “It’s to increase safety.”

Damaso said it will place a negative connotation on the city and cause people not to want to come into town to shop, but Rayl said, “People speeding through East Liverpool aren’t coming here to shop anyway.”

Councilman Bill Hogue pointed out the cameras “won’t be all over town” but just in areas in which speeding is of high concern, such as school zones.

The committee forwarded for full council’s consideration legislation that will update existing ordinances pertaining to such systems, which would have to be followed with legislation to actually put the system in place.

At the committee’s request, Allen said he will have a DragonCam representative at the next council meeting.

He said after the meeting that Liverpool Township trustees had recently given first reading to legislation to implement the same camera system for its police department.