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Toledo traffic cameras: Safety precaution or moneymaker?

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(Toledo News Now) -

Police and protestors stand on the opposite sides of the road when it comes to red traffic cameras in Toledo. 

Lt. Jeff Sulewski says the cameras are a new form of technology helping the Toledo Police Department's lean traffic unit. 

"It's a force multiplier for the city. We currently have six officers assigned to traffic enforcement—we can't have an officer on every corner," he explained. 

But others see it much differently including Ron Johns, the creator of a Facebook page called "Toledoans Against Speed Cameras." 

"It's obviously just them trying to generate some revenue." 

Toledo currently has 44 cameras set up at select intersections—the camera program is forecasted to make the city $4.2 million for year 2013.  

Since 2001, the photo enforcement system helped the city of Toledo profit nearly $9 million. 

In a decade's time, more than 300,000 citations have been issued—more than 100,000 of those tickets remain unpaid. 

But Lt. Sulewski says the cameras have little to do with money and everything to do with safety. 

"It's helping alter the traffic pattern, and slow the pattern down." 

But has safety drastically improved since the implementation of these cameras at intersections? 

"Yes, I would say yes." 

From 2012 to 2013—accidents at Cherry + Delaware, Collingwood + Door have gone down. But at locations like Whitmer + Alexis and Bancroft + Reynolds accidents have gone up. 

Sulewski says a 10-year study found a 2% – 17% reduction in all accidents at the camera equipped intersections. 

But over time, are cameras doing enough to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers—as its intended goal? 

At Alexis + Detroit, cameras went up in 2006, and so have the number of accidents. During the same time span, there's been a steady decrease in accidents at Anthony Wayne + Western. 

In 2001, Redflex agreed to install and maintain 18 cameras at no cost to the city. Back then, Toledo and Redflex split the profits roughly down the middle. In the renewed 2012 contract, Toledo collects 75% of the $120 fine.

Smiley face

Read the Redflex contract here

The city—one of Redflex's biggest clients in the state—has 44 cameras. That's more than Cleveland's 37 cameras and Columbus' 38. In November of 2008, Cincinnati voters banned photo enforcement cameras altogether. 

And soon, the future of the system could change forever in Ohio. 

A bipartisan bill is being debated right now in Columbus to put a stop to cameras issuing fines against those speeding and running red lights. Even though the cameras fine more than 5,300 drivers a month for allegedly breaking the law in Toledo while behind the wheel, which is why police and politicians from the local area are testifying to keep the new technology up and running because—they believe its reducing accidents. 

The Ohio House passed Bill No. 69 earlier this year. The state Senate is expected to vote in early 2014.

Read Bill No. 69 here

As local protestor Ron Johns stands in opposition of the cameras, he hopes the Senate follows suit and outlaws them.

"It's an unjust intrusion into our liberties, and is completely illegal under the Fourth Amendment."

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Copyright 2013 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved. 

  • WSFA Online Poll

  • Toledo's Traffic Cameras: Do you think they're a good idea?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Yes, they help crack down on drivers who break the law
    26%
    109 votes
    No, traffic cameras are an invasion of privacy
    74%
    307 votes
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