GIRARD Mayor: Benefits of speed camera outweigh glitches

GIRARD -- City officials say there are going to be some glitches and growing pains with the new speed camera system, but residents should look to the ultimate goal of speed reduction.
Earlier this week a property owner on state Route 422 parked a car in front of the camera when the camera was placed in front of his property. Officials said the camera was attached to a pole owned by the man.
Jerry Lambert, safety services director, said attaching the camera to a pole not owned by the city was a mistake. He said Traffipax of Columbia, Md., the company in charge of maintaining and placing the camera, has been informed to only attach the camera to poles owned by the city.
Lambert said the city is not looking to take action against the man because the pole is on the man's property. Ordinarily, however, anyone caught tampering with the camera could face criminal charges.
Warning sign
Mayor James Melfi said police officials have suggested a sign be attached to the camera warning those up to no good that their actions could result in criminal prosecution. The police chief could not be reached to detail what those potential charges are.
Both Melfi and Lambert said they have heard about two residents disputing tickets they received in the mail, but no one has formally objected to a ticket issued as a result of the camera.
Lambert said a part-time hearing officer will be hired as early as Monday to handle disputed tickets. He said anyone wishing to dispute a ticket can call a toll-free number and set up a hearing with the hearing officer through Traffipax.
Camera benefits
Melfi said wrong pole placement and any disputed tickets are relatively minor when residents consider the benefits of the camera. He said officials are beginning to hear from those in support of its use.
"We are getting favorable responses from residents who have long cried for a reduction in the speed of those coming through town," he said. "Those people complaining obviously don't live in those affected neighborhoods."
Melfi said more people will see the benefits of the camera with students returning to school and more kids walking along and crossing city streets. He said the safety factor is still city officials' biggest concern.
Melfi said city officials will be monitoring traffic flow in the city to make sure the camera is helping reduce speeding and accidents. He said statistics from previous years will be compared with statistics taken since the camera has been operative to see if the city has had fewer accidents.
"We know it is effective in reducing speed, but is there a direct correlation between speed and accidents," he said.
Should the statistics show no changes in the accident rate or overall safety on city streets, Melfi said he will personally order the camera removed.

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