Dayton Police renew push to turn red light cameras back on

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Dayton Police are renewing their effort to turn on red light cameras, arguing they save lives. But, critics say they’re a cash grab.

“All the data said red light violations went up,” Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said. “Speeding went up. Accidents went up. Injury accidents went up. And fatalities went up.”

That’s why Chief Biehl says red light camera enforcement needs to come back. Since 2014, the city has seen a 40 percent increase in traffic crashes and a 45 percent increase in traffic deaths.

“We want our streets to be safe,” Mayor Nan Whaley said. “And the traffic and speeding cameras make our streets safer and they change behavior.”

Dayton Police are asking the city for 10 fixed camera systems, 6 handheld devices and 2 portable trailer units. Those devices would be used at the city’s most dangerous intersections. Dayton Police officers would operate them on a scheduled basis, roughly 8 hours per week.

“There’s more people dying in the last two years and this technology has demonstrated,” Chief Biehl said. “It’s effectiveness to create a safer pedestrian and driving environment.”

In January, attorneys for the city argued before the Ohio Supreme Court, asking they reject a 2015 law, which requires that a police officer be present in order to issue a red light camera ticket. A decision has yet to be handed down. Chief Biehl says they just don’t have enough manpower to station officers at red light camera locations.

“If we had the luxury of having an officer present at these sites we’d be doing it on a regular basis,” Chief Biehl said. “The fact is we don’t have the ability to do that. So that’s really one of the issues for us.”

Chief Biehl and his department presented requests for the new cameras to city leaders at a work session Wednesday. He says they’ll now wait for it to be up for vote at an upcoming commission meeting.

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