Another county judge rejects new Ohio requirement of police presence with traffic cameras

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CINCINNATI — A second Ohio county judge has rejected new state restrictions on traffic cameras, saying Friday the rules violate local-government powers that cities have under the state constitution.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Barbara Gorman granted a permanent injunction to the city of Dayton against rules including requiring that police officers be present when cameras are used to catch speeding motorists or red-light runners.

"The statute simply mandates to local jurisdictions how to allocate their law enforcement personnel," Gorman wrote, calling it "an impermissible limit" in violation of local "home-rule" powers. Other requirements such as conducting a traffic study of the previous three-year period and having a public relations campaign to inform motorists before cameras are used also impermissibly limit municipal powers, she ruled.

"The state has placed an onerous burden on local municipalities seeking to administratively enforce their own traffic control procedures," Gorman stated.

Spokesman Dan Tierney said the Ohio attorney general's office plans to appeal the ruling against the law passed late last year.

The Ohio Supreme Court has twice upheld automated camera enforcement, which draws criticism from opponents who say it runs over motorists' rights and is mainly used to raise revenue. Legislators had said the law they passed allowed cameras, but just added requirements for their use.

However, the new law, effective last month, quickly drew multiple legal challenges. Cities said the law infringed upon their powers and countered their goal of increasing safety by stretching police resources further.

A Lucas County judge earlier granted a preliminary injunction sought by Toledo blocking the law.

Dayton and Akron have continued using photo enforcement without officers present, while some other cities halted using traffic cameras alone pending the outcome of various lawsuits.

There had been a tide of votes and rulings across the state against cameras, with county judges ordering them turned off in the southwest Ohio villages of Elmwood Place and New Miami. But Toledo won a 4-3 Ohio Supreme Court ruling in December upholding camera enforcement, after a motorist who got a speeding ticket sued the city.


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