Radar cameras deserve pass

Published 10:38 am Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ohio law permits law enforcement agencies to utilize speed enforcement through the use of radar cameras, but a full-time officer must witness these offenses.

The City of Ironton and the Village of Coal Grove were presented with proposals to use these pieces of equipment.

We certainly understand the potential increase in revenue and having the payroll expenses covered for the officers while using the equipment, but this shouldn’t come at the expense of losing the human element that can play an essential role in traditional traffic stops.

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In many instances, the result of catching someone intoxicated or traveling with drugs begins with a traffic stop for speeding.

In these traditional traffic stops, the officer or state patrolman have the opportunity to tell if a driver has been drinking or taking drugs, or if drugs are being moved.

Traffic violation stops, as we have seen in many stories, often lead to drug busts that take dangerous chemicals off our streets. Replacing those stops with photo enforcement can inhibit the officer’s ability to protect residents and other motorists from these hazards.

Moreover, safety is not the only concern with this venture, as there is the potential economic impact of such a policy.  Motorists may choose to avoid our communities and cross the bridge at Ashland instead.

Right or wrong, if enacted, Coal Grove and Ironton could get a negative perception among motorists, extending the stigma that already hangs over the Hanging Rock area. This could result in drivers simply continuing on the Kentucky side of the river, thus not potentially stopping at our restaurants or buying gas and other items from our service stations.

It’s for these reasons that we are opposed to the idea of utilizing radar cameras. Encouraging drivers to operate their vehicles safely and enforcing the traffic is the number one priority. But taking away that human factor and discretion that police officers offer in standard traffic stops makes the use of officer operated cameras little better than the unmanned cameras that the state has already ruled against.

While legal, there are simply more negatives than positives, and we encourage both Coal Grove and Ironton to give this a “pass.”