East Cleveland mayor defends city's use of red light cameras, which violate state law

Posted at 7:16 AM, Mar 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-07 07:16:08-05

News 5 has been investigating the troublesome red light cameras in East Cleveland, which are in direct violation of state law.

On the corner of Superior Avenue and Coventry Road, two bright flashes capture unsuspected drivers approaching the intersection, leaving drivers with a not so glamorous $95 fine.

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"When you run a red light or speed through a school zone, you are breaking the law" said East Cleveland Mayor Brandon King.

But it turns out, the city of East Cleveland is the one violating a state statute, which requires an officer to be present at each of the city's 14 cameras.

We asked Mayor King what he would say to residents who say East Cleveland is breaking the law. "You know what I would say, is that I've never gotten a red light camera ticket. Why? I stop at red lights," he said. 

East Cleveland Law Director Willa Hemmons had a different message.

"That law has been challenged, it has been successfully challenged," said Hemmons.

Hemmons is referring to decisions by two lower appeals courts striking down state law for infringing on the city's governing rights. But in the case currently in front of the state supreme court, another lower court ruled in favor of the state and the statute.

"We are in Cuyahoga County, we're closer to Summit county... So we are taking advantage of the fact that there is a conflict in the jurisdictions" said Hemmons.

So until that conflict is resolved, Hemmons says they will continue their program. Mayor King tells News 5 a major reason for the cameras is your safety.

"We have a number of people who, in prior years, would have total disregard for the lights, stop signs, pedestrians in the streets" said Mayor King.

The appeals court with jurisdiction over Cuyahoga County hasn't heard a case involving red light cameras. But once the Ohio Supreme Court hands down its decision, it will resolve the conflicts between the lower courts.