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Camera proposal lacks support



Published: Tue, February 10, 2009 @ 12:06 a.m.

photo

Warren police chief John Mandopolous

By Ed Runyan

No traffic camera legislation is planned in Warren at this time, a councilman said.

WARREN — After the city laid off 20 police officers Jan. 1 and received a traffic-camera proposal from police Chief John Mandopoulos, Councilman Bob Dean, D-at large, thought it might be worth a try to introduce traffic-camera legislation for a third time.

He and Councilwoman Sue Hartman, D-7th, even asked the city’s law department to draw up legislation again, incorporating the chief’s suggestions.

But because there still doesn’t appear to be enough support for the idea, the proposal isn’t moving forward, Dean said Monday.

No traffic-camera legislation is on the agenda for council’s meeting Wednesday.

“I’ve given it my best shot,” Dean said, but too many Warren residents and council members apparently still oppose the idea, he added.

In January, the police chief proposed putting stationary traffic cameras in the 12 most dangerous areas of the city as measured by traffic citation and accident statistics.

Mandopoulos said his proposal would be different from the traffic cameras used in Girard several years ago.

For one, drivers would be made aware that a traffic camera is being used up ahead, Mandopoulos said.

About one quarter of a mile away would be a sign that says “photo enforcement ahead,” Mandopoulos said.

The system would be programmed to send out a ticket whenever someone traveled 9 mph too fast in either a 25- or 35-mph zone or 5 mph too fast in a 20-mph school zone.

The cameras would generate revenue that might bring laid-off officers back to work, but they also would slow down traffic in some of the most dangerous areas in the city, Mandopoulos said.

“It makes perfect sense,” Mandopoulos said of such a camera proposal. “What is everyone afraid of?”

Because of the department’s reduced manpower, officers rarely write traffic citations unless they are working saturation patrols paid for with state grant money, or unless a motorist violates the speed limit right in front of an officer, Mandopoulos said.

Mandopoulos said one of the worst areas in the city for safety is the intersection of East Market Street and Elm Road, the location of the Sunrise Inn, whose owner, Ken Haidaris, has been one of the most outspoken opponents of traffic cameras.

Haidaris has argued that traffic cameras will discourage people from coming into town, thereby hurting business.

Mandopoulos said a more important reason for slowing down traffic, however, is to protect children playing in or near the streets.

“You can’t get more cops or more parks, so this will help,” Mandopoulos said, adding that children don’t always see cars because they are “busy having fun.”

For him to sponsor traffic camera legislation again, Dean said he would need to know that he has the votes of at least five other council members.

Dean enlisted the help of a citizens group of about eight people, who came to a council committee meeting recently saying they were in favor of the cameras.

Dean said he told the group to discuss their feelings with Haidaris and see if they could arrive at a compromise. He has not heard back from the group, Dean added.

runyan@vindy.com


Comments

1Forejjg(21 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

I've live in areas of the country that utilize traffic cameras as well as countries overseas. I can't imagine any negative impact fro having the cameras. Those that argue that cameras will discourage people from coming into town, therefore hurting business are just grasping at excuses. People aren't going to stop coming into town because of a camera, but it might cause people to slow down a little, saving lives. The worst economy since the depression doesn't keep most people out of the bars, why would you think a camera will.

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2paulydel(1307 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Well the bad guys got a win on this one. You have got people on the road today that could care less about traffic devices. the police aren't always around and you have less on the road now. the camares are a great deterent to stopping accidents and if you aren't breaking the law you don't have anything to worry about. Any council memmber that would oppose this should be voted off of the council obviously they didn't do much homework on this.

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3NoBS(1959 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

And now for the other side.

Traffic cams are hugely unpopular with taxpaying citizens. They are only popular among money-grubbing politicians, who see them as a cash cow. These same politicians are responsible for such unethical behavior as shortening yellow lights so the red light cams "catch" more people in the intersection at the instant the light turns red. Statistics show that crashes actually increase when red light cams are installed, because some people are afraid of getting a ticket, so the instant the light turns yellow they spike the brakes.

Traffic cams do nothing to deter crime. They cannot stop a drunk driver - they're not even aware of a drunk driver unless he speeds or runs a red light. They are all about the money.

And to those who simplistically bleat "just don't speed" let me ask you what happens when you drive past the camera at the speed limit, and at that same time someone drives the other way at a high rate of speed. They trip the camera, which gets both your pictures. You both get tickets. Right? If not, how do they know who was speeding and who was not? If they don't send either party a ticket because they don't know who was speeding and who wasn't, then what good are the cameras, if they aren't being used to send tickets to speeders? A cop with a hand-held radar gun would avoid these problems.

And, traffic cams DO discourage people from coming to town - just ask the merchants of Girard.

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4Forejjg(21 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

NoBS, I'll say it again, if the cameras are getting pictures of vehicles going the other way an your vehicle "the idiots in charge are too stupid and incompetent to run them. Your typical HS grad that started out as a part time city council and moved up the chain to be in charge." That's the problem.

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