Falls should drop speed camera idea

Newton Falls was correct to table discussions about adding a speed camera program to village law enforcement, and now should permanently toss the idea out.

Attributing the idea in part to the coronavirus pandemic that heightened awareness of social distancing to help protect law enforcement officers from excessive interaction with the public, village Manager David Lynch recently said he thinks using speed cameras also would slow down motorists in the village.

We were glad to hear comments from Councilman Richard Zamecnik, who pointed out that policing by use of speed camera also takes away real police interaction.

“Police can wear masks and gloves to protect themselves. Ticketing for profit is wrong,” Zamecnik said.

We agree. In fact, plans already in the works about how the village would spend the money demonstrate the focus on the cameras’ revenue generation.

The proposed legislation would place a portion of the revenue in the police department and a portion in the road department.

When communities begin using speed cameras, unsuspecting motorists never are pulled over by police. Rather, they learn of the infraction only when a fine shows up in the vehicle owner’s mailbox. The ticket and collection efforts target the owner of the vehicle — not necessarily the person who was driving when the alleged infraction occurred.

We believe the idea of policing for profit is unconscionable, and we suspect that many police officers being told to sit roadside, camera in hand, with no need to pull speeders over, probably feel the same way. Most good police officers probably would confirm that running traffic patrols the old-fashioned way — by actually pulling over speeders — often results in more serious arrests.

Those days soon could be gone altogether as more and more departments rely on speed cameras, worrying more about generating revenue and less about police work like answering calls or actually slowing down speeding motorists by pulling them over.

During the discussion held earlier this month, Newton Falls 2nd Ward Councilman John Baryak said he is against police hiding behind bushes using a speed camera. He said the speed cameras will become civil matters and “clog up” Newton Falls court.

We agree.

Newton Falls should drop this idea before it goes any further.



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