Proposed Ohio traffic camera law could threaten Parma's school zone safety system

Posted at 6:35 AM, Feb 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-14 12:10:05-05

The way Ohio cities use their traffic cameras could all change, thanks to what some say is an abuse by four cities, leaving Parma to figure out a new way to keep their school zones safe.

Stand outside a Parma school building at dismissal time, and Parma Public Safety Director Thomas Weinreich says drivers just know they have to slow down.

"I think that because of the awareness and viability of the cameras in the school zones, people are more conscious drivers in our school zones," said Weinreich.

They've been around in Parma since 2009, always deployed under the watchful eye of a police officer nearby.

Even for State Legislator Bill Seitz, Parma is an example of how a city can use the cameras the right way. Representative Seitz blames a 2014 Ohio Supreme Court decision, rolling back earlier limits on traffic cameras in the name of home rule.

"We thought that was a bad decision but it left us no choice but to do what we're doing in House Bill 410," said Representative Seitz.

He says the legislature is on solid ground making rules for the courts and controlling local funding. He says it would make cities who he thinks abuses their cameras, like Linndale, East Liverpool, Toledo and Brice, put their money where their mouth is, by taking away local government funding from the state to offset revenue brought in from the tickets.

It would also make cities file the tickets through Municipal Court.

"And they will not be able to have one of their employees conduct administrative tribunals, also known as "Kangaroo Courts" to process the violations," said Representative Seitz.

Seitz says cities that use their cameras in limited places, like Parma's school zones, are simply collateral damage.

Parma tells us if the bill is signed into law, they'd have to re-evaluate how they use their traffic cameras.