Steubenville 6th Ward Councilman David Lalcich led off a regular meeting of Steubenville City Council's Safety Committee by asking Council to consider traffic cameras again for the city. A retired law enforcement officer asserts drivers don't pay attention to posted speed limits.
James Mavromatis, a retired federal agent, told the Safety Committee, "You've heard the phrase, that our own Ohio Highway Patrol uses, 'Speed Kills.' It does. And the bottom line is, Sunset's a drag way."
The initiative comes with no small amount of controversy. Steubenville tried traffic cameras back in 2005. Robotic cameras promptly wrote nearly 7,000 tickets with an $85.00 fine. A class-action lawsuit by local attorney Gary Stern, as well as an overwhelming referendum rejection later -- and the cameras disappeared.
Steubenville Police Chief Bill McCaffery says enforcing traffic laws with police officers takes his limited manpower away from preventing more serious crimes. "It's the same thing with, with I was speeding or running a red light, anything," he told the committee. "Nobody wants to get caught. But, you know, they vote on it, but yet, people call down my office complaining all the time about speeders. I mean, where I live. Or any of you live. You can look at the window, and go, 'Boy, I wish a cop was there.'"
Lalich says public safety matters most.
"People are looking for solutions. We have to free up officers. We have to get our school zones monitored for speeding. We don't have enough officers to monitor the zones. People are complaining about neighborhood speeding. We don't have enough officers to put in neighborhoods."
Third ward councilman Greg Metcalf dissents with Lalich. He pointed out residents overwhelmingly rejected the robotic cameras before. "I think it's a good idea to slow down the speeder," Metcalf said. "I think it's a good idea to protect our school zones. I just want -- I don't want to just say, 'We're doing this.' I want our citizens to have input."
At that point, other committee members chimed in, telling Metcalf, "That's what the three readings (of a proposed ordinance) are for."
City Law Director Gary Repella told council he had two residents call him already to place a referendum against the cameras on the ballot. Even so, committee members agreed the public should have a chance to speak at a public hearing on the proposal. While no date has yet been set, Mayor Dominic Mucci felt the hearing should take place at a location with a large auditorium, such as Eastern Gateway Community College.