DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)- A Lucas County judge may be paving the way to help keep traffic cameras.
The judge ordered a preliminary injunction, which has placed a hold on the state’s ruling that an officer must accompany any posted devices.
By Monday, all cameras were to be shut off if the cities could not comply, but the ruling has left room for interpretation for various cities.
Dayton City Manager Warren Price said, “This should clear the way for us to reactivate our cameras.”
And it did just that, Monday afternoon the city announced effective immediately all cameras were activated.
But despite the city’s decision, under their own legal counsel and that of their vendor, Red Flex, Dayton will face an uphill battle.
It’s a fight that Price says could end up in Appellate or even Ohio’s Supreme Court.
But even as the devices return back to duty, Dayton is still left with several liabilities
“One of the risk could be that during the preliminary injunction period that if we are issuing fines,” the city manager explained. “There’s some possibility or the question is out there if that preliminary injunction would be lifted, or if it’s not in our favor what would be the disposition of the monies that are collected during the period.”
It’s something city leaders must deal with down the line, but in the meantime, officials say they should have the final say in city matters.
For leaders, it’s a question of safety and also city economics.
The 2009 financial crisis has left the Dayton police department without a fully functioning traffic unit.
Price says the cameras are a way to enforce traffic safety without using the force’s officers.
There’s also the financial hit to consider.
“Naturally, as part of that enforcement angle, there are fines collected and that does end up resulting in a net revenue of roughly a $1 million dollars a year to the city, which is a significant loss,” Price said.
And so, like other cities and counties, Dayton plans on fighting to keep the cameras in use.
Trotwood is another city watching how the injunction ruling unfolds.
Since the Trotwood police department is already short staffed, like other jurisdictions, it can’t staff their red light and speed cameras with an officer.
Instead, they’re hoping to use mobile speed cameras.
But Trotwood officials say even with the mobile speed units, accidents will still be at an all time high.
Police say the mobile units can’t replace the value of their traffic cameras.
The city says the cameras serve as a tool or what officials call a force multiplier.
Captain John Porter says that means every camera is like having 10 officers on the streets patrolling.
And he says the devices do the job and do it well, having decreased accidents significantly in Trotwood.
In nearly the last decade, the city’s seen a 35 percent decrease in crashes.
“And it’s not just along the connector area along Salem Avenue where we have our fixed cameras but it’s everywhere in the city because people are aware we have cameras in the city, we send out citations for these violations, and that they– so they change their behavior,” Porter explained.
The captain says since reports that the cameras are going down, there’s been a gradual increase in the number of crashes.
It’s not a trend he wishes to see continue.
Trotwood has not filed an injunction, and does not have plans to file suit against the state.
But it is following closely the cases of several other Montgomery County cities.