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Niles chief joins outcry against traffic cameras

Published: Thu, February 5, 2009 @ 12:08 a.m.

The police chief joined residents and some councilmen in opposing the cameras.



NILES — Residents who crowded council chambers Wednesday for a public meeting on the possible use of computerized cameras to catch red light and other traffic violators emphatically told council they don’t want the monitors in Niles.

“It’s just a racket to make money,” complained resident James Sheely. Opponents found an ally in Police Chief Bruce Simeone.

“I think we are better served with police officers patrolling than relying on those cameras,” Simeone said. “That’s our job.”

The comments followed a presentation by representatives of Traffipax, the Baltimore, Md., company that is also trying to persuade the city of Warren to use the cameras. Their local consultant, Hank Angelo, former Warren mayor, said the cameras “free up police to go after the worst kind of criminals” because they are not tied up with traffic violations. Gwyne Miller, the company’s regional sales director, said the purpose of the cameras is to increase safety and not spy on residents.

“This is not a ‘Big Brother’ issue,” Miller said. The audience disagreed.

“You’re going to lose your rights here,” said Luis Perez of Niles.

“It’s creepy—it creeps me out,” said Richard Mikesell, a partner in Warren-based Cookies to Go, who said he would not deliver cookies to Girard when that city had the Traffipax systems.

“Business drops off because of the cameras,” Mikesell said

Councilman Ed Stredney, safety committee chairman, explained that Traffipax representatives had asked to make the presentation, and he viewed it as strictly informational.

“Right now, there is no thought of any ordinance coming out about this,” Stredney said.

Miller said the city would not have to pay for the cameras, which would be owned and operated by Traffipax, with Niles and the company sharing revenue from violator fines. Miller said the cameras would be placed on streets where most red-light violations or accidents occur.

Simeone was asked if he knew of such locations in Niles.

“Not off the top of my head,” the police chief said. “I can’t think of any right now.”

Councilman Stephen Papalas and Council President Robert Marino voiced their opposition. None of the remaining council members spoke in favor, and Stredney said he believes the idea is dead.

“We may well be the first council in Ohio to say ‘no’ to the cameras without voting on legislation,” the councilman said.


1paulydel(1508 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

This is a joke that people including the chief would complain about the cameras. The cameras work and especially in high traffic accident areas. The cookie guy says he won't deliver wherever they put the camaras is putting himself out of a job and I really think he would do that with the way the economy is. He's lucky if he is selling anything right now. You got to many people breaking traffic laws now that should be caught.

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2Tugboat(759 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

If a cop gets in a pursuit with a vehicle but can't prove who was driving, he can't file charges. If I get a series of harassing phone calls, come up with info on where the call originated, I can't assume the phone subscriber made the call. It is as simple as that. People that prosper from and agree with these cameras insult our intelligence as recklessly as professional wrestling.

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3redvert(2197 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

When someone runs a red light and kills a innocent person we hear the complaints about the cops not doing their job. If you loan your car to someone and they run a red light, you are responsible for letting the a-hole drive your car. Maybe not legally but that is the bottom line. Who would you go after if your family member was a innocent victim and you could not identify the driver and the car had not been stolen.

I guess we just have to get used to the new mentality. Blame everyone else for the problems but do not take any ownership in trying to help find a solution. Somewhere out there is a compromise on how to use cameras effectively to decrease traffic violations. Hope none of you ever have to make funeral arrangements because you stood your ground and allowed no one to insult your intelligence.

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4aeparish(669 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

These cameras will not be effective. Even if you say that you are responsible for letting the 'a-hole' drive your car, what if that 'a-hole' is also a title holder for that car? Are they going to give both title holders a ticket, and ultimately both title holders points on their licenses?

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5redvert(2197 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

If that a-hole is also a title holder on the vehicle it is obvious who would get the ticket or at least it should be.

You do bring up a good point though, in cases where everybody denies responsibility there should be a law (never happen) where the vehicle owner is held responsible. Might make some people think a little bit about who they loan their car to. Actually there is kind of a law and it is called mandatory auto insurance. Silly me, as if the dirt bags are going to have insurance. Course if they do it is the bare minimum just to qualify them for a tag. Back to that new mentality I mentioned earlier.

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6jb1975(1 comment)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Let's be realistic and take off the blinders referencing this issue of traffic and safety cameras and not think of what is the most appropriate political answer.

If you are not breaking the law, why should you be in opposition. The facts are that these devices are proven to reduce school zone speeds by 11mph. They are proven to reduce red light violators. No community in this country has the
budget to be as effective as these devices are in increasing safety to their communities.

In no way do I feel that these should replace an officer. All communities need more officers now more than ever. This is viewed in my eyes as an aid to communities and could be a positive thing.

Some have oppossed the fact that if someone else is driving my car I am issued the citation. I would hope that we all would be cautious and only let people whom we trust use our vehicles.

Furthermore, these cameras are not set to issue citations for going 2 mph over the speed limit. The Police are responsible for setting a fair limit and one that will increase the safety of that community.

These citations are in most cases no more than $110 and as long as they are paid there are no consequences to one's license or increase in insurance. So when someone says it's only about the money ask yourself.... at what cost are you willing to lose a son, daughter or family member when a safety device is available that does not cost your community a dime but has successful results in reducing speeds and accidents.

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7computer_rick(137 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Looking at the comments above, looks like a few are of the same type of "unsolicited" comments made by folks in support of the payday loan companies a few weeks ago. You know, folks who are in favor of payday loans, because of all the "good" that comes of them.

Me Personally? I am all for traffic cameras. One on every corner in fact. I mean, only mentally aberrant social misfits would be against traffic cameras, correct? Only people who are breaking the law would have anything to fear, because, as we all know, computers never make mistakes.

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8aeparish(669 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Redvert, you hardly even addressed my point. All you did was continue on about what you originally said.

"If that a-hole is also a title holder on the vehicle it is obvious who would get the ticket or at least it should be."

How is it obvious? If a married couple both share the title for a car, how do they know who was driving? If there are two title holders, both title holders are technically the owners of the car. Unless they capture images of the driver, who is ultimately responsible?

And JB, excuse my ignorance, but since when does a speeding ticket not affect your drivers' license? If you are issued a speeding ticket by a police officer, you get points on your license. Is this some type of exception?

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9metz87(884 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Don't you tihnk that this would put police officers out of a job. nAnd ho gets mor money the compnay who owns the cameras or the city? I am tihnking the company does which hradly sounds right to me.

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10aeparish(669 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

It doesn't really have anything to do with putting officers out of a job. They are still necessary. Their only purpose isn't to stop people for traffic violations. I'm not for the cameras at all because of all of the technicalities involved, but I will say this -- maybe if they do install them, the cops will fight the REAL crime in whatever area they are installed, instead of sitting in an empty lot with their lights off trying to clock someone.

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11scrooge(563 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

"Niles and the company sharing revenue from violator fines."
Sort of spells it all out for me. This is designed to be a money making scheme otherwise it wouldn't be profitable for the company to do this.

mstng_sally described what I was thinking as I was reading the article: the driver of the car should be ticketed (like a LIVE patrolman would do) and not the owner of the car. There have been numerous reports of faulty software that inadvertantly ticketed an innocent owner.
Kudos to Mr. Simeone for 1) having a city he feels is patroled well enough, and 2) realizing that with the cameras the next possible step would be to reduce the number of patrolmen on the streets since they would no longer be burdened with traffic tickets.

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12pci510(105 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Unfortunately they install these cameras and then change the yellow light to hold for 3 seconds. A person especially in snowy / icy conditions can't stop on a dime and even in warm sunny weather it is best for 5 - 7 seconds for a car to stop at a traffic light. Semi trucks or company trucks may take longer to get thru a yellow light. Of course those whom are in governmental positions have been given a citation many of those were voided off.

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13CassAnn(252 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

These cameras are about making money- not concern for safety. Look at how traffic lights are installed. After so many people are in accidents and are killed or hurt, THEN they install traffic lights at an intersection- Why? Because they cost money instead of MAKE money. When it comes to these cameras, "safety" is just an excuse to make money.

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14injusticeallover(4 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

What's next? seatbelt cameras.

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15metz87(884 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

It seems they are already telling them to get out of town.

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16Eric(198 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

I have a simple, yet novel idea: don't speed and don't crash red lights. Then you don't need to worry about cameras. If the length of the yellow light is too short, then the city council should adjust it. If the speed limits are unreasonably low, then city council should adjust those as well. But don't try the excuse that "nobody drives the speed limit anyways, so it is just a money maker." Speed limits and red lights are there for the safety of everyone on the road. All fines bring in revenue to the city, so the "just the money" theory could be applied to every violation that results in a fine. The fact it, cameras are a deterrant. When I drive past a traffic camera, I see people driving the speed limit. We should use any technology we have in order to maintain safe roadways.

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17Eric(198 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago


In most cities (and all cities I am aware of), tickets issued by a camera are CIVIL penalities. That means just a fine, with no points assessed. If someone else was driving the car, it is up to the owner to go after that person. But the owner won't have a tarnished driving record. If it is a married couple, most likely their funds are intermingled. It is the same idea as if someone is in a traffic accident in someone else's vehicle. Ultimately, it is the vehicle owner's fiancial liability. Granted, the owner wouldn't get a citation, but they are responsible for the damages. We need to be aware of who is driving our car, because we are responsible for what they do with it.

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18NoBS(2390 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Traffic cams are money-makers, pure and simple. They have nothing whatever to do with safety or law enforcement. Politicians like them because of the revenue they generate, although few will admit it. But they're hugely unpopular with taxpayers. I just wish the taxpayers would remember at election time who it was that put those cameras in place! I would think anyone wanting to become a city councilman or other similar elected position would only have to come out and say they opposed the traffic cams and would work to get them removed - that would probably guarantee them election to office.

I say kudos to Niles!!

Until there's a way to address or challenge legitimate cases of traffic cam malfunction, they should not be used anywhere.

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19Heard_it_all_before(62 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Whether it is a money maker, or whether people should all be going the speed limit or stopping for lights is not the real issue with traffic cameras. What is most troubling to me is that the "administrative" ticket you get has the effect of circumventing the law regarding a person's Constitutional rights. In all cases except parking violations, the operator of the vehicle must be positively identified so that the right person (violator) is charged. In short, the person who commits the offense should be held to account. A picture of the back of a car means nothing in terms of probative or evidentiary value, unless the government removes the Constitutional safeguards of probable cause by calling it an "administrative" procedure and lowering the standards of proof.

Further eroision of our rights is not worth any value the cameras bring. No one wants a careless motorist to kill another person. That said, records and statistical analysis can assist in identifying accident trends so that law enforcement resources can be focused on problems instead of squandered on random patrols. Increased attention by police has been proven to have value in reducing traffic injuries. More expensive than traffic cameras, to be sure, but also more effective. Plus we are not forced to give away our rights in return for the dubious privilege of sharing the profits with a for-profit company.

For what it's worth - I have a clean driving record with no tickets and am not worried about being caught on camera. It's just that the potential for errors or abuse is too great. Especially where money is involved.

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20ytownsteelman(674 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

What I would like to know is what divine authority sets speed limits, and why must those speed limits not be questioned? When the camera was on State Street in Girard many people got nailed for going 45 in a 35 zone. The road between the city limits and I-80 is built for 45 mph speeds and it is not unsafe to operate your vehicle at 45 mph. But because some beaurocratic bookworm wanted to make the speed limit 35 mph many people had to pay the price.

Perhaps the traffic cameras are a good idea, but only once speed limits are set correctly. I think ALL speed limits should be raised at least 5 to 10 MPH on all roads. Have you ever noticed that what seems to be a good natural speed for a particular stretch of road is usually 5 to 10 mph over the limit?

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21Thinker(15 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Most of you are missing the most important issue here, and that is:

The police need to do their jobs! I used to live in Niles, and I can attest to the fact that these guys do not want to sit and run radar or watch for red light runners. All they want to do is, as the "Chief" says, "patrol," which translates to them driving around, or parking next to the closed Burlington store on Rte. 422.

Almost every time I go through the intersction at 422 & 46, at least 2-3 cars run the left turn signal. My son was hit there by one of these people, who had no insurance and was not cited by Niles police. My son's car was totaled, and he had spinal injuries, which resulted in his needing surgery years later. All a cop needs to do is sit at one of these intersections for a while every once in a while, and maybe people wiould get the idea NOT to run the light. Traffic cameras are not the solution.

A few years ago, I had my new car egged while parked at the movies behind the mall, and called for the police to come and make a report for my insurance.

They never came after 15 minutes, but when I finally left to go wash the car off, there were 2 cops sitting in front of Burlington, talking. I stopped to politely complain about them not ever showing up, and got treated very rudely. One cop was on "private security," and the other was on duty.

I ended up with a damaged door, which I had to pay for.

I could go on and on about these worthless guys, and their antics over the many years I lived in Niles.

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22nitroop(2 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

i must commend the chief to oppose this act of insanity. we have a good law enforcement agency that does thier job and protects the citizens of niles. maybe these other municiplities should take a lesson on how we conduct our law enforcement way to go chief.

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23metz87(884 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

If every town would oppsoe thse dumb camera the companies would have to go soemwehre else or out of busniess. not i nthe mahoning valley for sure.

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24dano0513(9 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

I think this is sweet, layoff as many cops as you can, I'll speed and pay the ticket. My insurance wont go up because you cannot recieve points on your licence from the camera, the state wont even know how many times you've been caught, hell I dont even need to have insurance, less cops on the road pulling people over....sweet !

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