2009-08-08 / Editorials & Letters

'Watchdog' takes a bite at Heath's 'scameras'


How much are your rights worth? Apparently the City of Heath thinks they're worth millions of dollars per year! I am sticking my nose into the fight AGAINST the 'red light' cameras (aka scameras) in what USED to be my favorite city to shop in…Heath. I never had the desire to wander over to the former speed trap of New Rome but it seems that New Rome has come to me!

The stretch of Ohio 79 which houses the most cameras in Heath Rome is only about two miles long. How many police officers would need to be visible to keep speeders in line if that were such a problem?

Although no one in my household has received one of the infamous tickets, I have been offered the chance to view some of them sent to others. The City of Heath calls them a "Notice of Liability." The notice claims that "photos were produced because electronic sensors determined a vehicle registered in your name (or driven by you) appears to have exceeded the posted speed limit." APPEARS to have exceeded the limit…

You can go online to view a video and that's what I did. It did APPEAR that the vehicle was speeding EXCEPT it APPEARED that all but one vehicle was speeding. The one that didn't APPEAR to have been speeding APPEARED to have been going very slow and maybe was turning (out of view of the camera).

Who is calibrating these 'sensors'? I should say, "IS ANYONE calibrating these sensors?" Police officers have to check the calibration of their radar/laser before every shift and, if I'm not mistaken, they also have to check it after they stop someone for speeding.

Something else in the video did APPEAR strange to me. The 'yellow' or caution light seemed to be on for only about four seconds. I went to Heath and timed some of the other yellow lights and found they were seven seconds long, but the one at a busy intersection was only four seconds. Were the caution lights always that short? Are people rushing through that light or is that light rushing people? Is that safe? Is that a money maker?

The person accused of a 'notice of liability' in Heath Rome has few due process protections. A motorist (the person allegedly committing the offense - not the owner of the vehicle) who is prosecuted for the same offense in the conventional way after having been pulled over by a policeman has THE RIGHT to a speedy trial where they can be heard. In fact, I believe you have the right to a trial within 45 days of the violation. In the City of Heath, you get a ticket SEVERAL WEEKS AFTER they say you violated their traffic laws. You can request a hearing but you must first post a bond in the amount of $100.00… which is ironically the same amount of the ticket. Your hearing will be, I would surmise, long after the 45 day speedy trial period.

If this isn't about money, why isn't the fine $50? Why not put these cameras up on the freeways and other state highways? Why not put them everywhere?! Ohio law mandates that police officers be trained to enforce traffic laws and protect your rights. If police officers are sitting at a desk watching thousands of videos, that means they are not out protecting citizens. A camera will not protect other motorists from someone who is speeding down the highway and who is also drunk!

A couple of people have given some advice on how to deal with the 'scameras.' Since they take a picture of your license and send you a ticket, take a picture of your money and send them a picture! I, however, will be avoiding the City of Heath as much as possible so that I am not wrongly accused nor have to feel that I have lost any of my rights at the expense of traveling through a city that is no longer the City of Progress but the City of Regress…the City of Heath Rome. Bonnie Mansfield Buckeye Lake

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