Newburgh Heights speed cameras net millions in fines, but mayor says safety is the driver

NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - Speed cameras are no favorite of drivers and are often criticized as designed to generate revenue, not promote safety.

Newburgh Heights Mayor Trevor Elkins, a camera proponent, defended the units in a nearly hour long discussion with reporters saying, "This process is not a scam and it's not predatory."

He is right on one score, speed cameras have been ruled constitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court, surviving several attempts by the legislature to ban them.

A key camera critic is Republican State Representative Tom Patton who is a co-sponsor of a bill that would allow the cameras but turn jurisdiction, and therefore, money from fines over to municipal courts.

"This way you don't have a city employee, mayor, or magistrate or whoever they appoint to sit on the case and decide if they have a legitimate complaint or not," said Patton.

Mayor Elkins, his police chief and law director explained the operation, equipment and legality of the Newburgh Heights ticketing process is what he called an A to Z primer on the subject.

He is aware that most people think only two letters apply: BS.

"I don't think this is gonna change anybody's mind.  Part of our responsibility's for people to understand the importance of the speed limit, that's why we're doing this," said Elkins.

The Mayor cited a transportation safety board study, and showed video of accidents on I-77 where speed was a factor.

Several tickets showed cars at 90 miles per hour or more.

One was doing 112. Accidents involving officers sitting on the highway for speed enforcement is a key and legitimate concern.

All arguments aside, Elkins says cameras don't lie. "This isn't about revenue for us. Do these create revenue? Absolutely. You and I have had this conversation a half dozen times since we started the program back in late 2013. I am not the Mayor who's gonna get up here and tell you these don't generate revenue or try to pretend that they don't."

In 2015, the cameras generated just under $1 million; in 2016, $1.8 million; and in 2017, $2.4 million.

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