On Your Side: Speed camera inside orange barrel gets attention, but it's legal
A tiny Franklin County village is cashing in on speed cameras and it's all perfectly legal, but now state lawmakers are questioning what some are calling "policing for profit."
Brice has long been known for its traffic tickets. Drivers have to adjust from 35 miles-per-hour to 25 mph when entering the village on the east side. Coming from the west, it drops from 50 down to 25.
Something that's sometimes inside an orange barrel alongside Brice Road is now causing a buzz. Police Chief Bud Bauchmoyer admitted he sometimes puts a speed camera inside it.
He said the barrel protects the camera from traffic and the elements and if you're observing the speed limit, it shouldn't be a problem.
Speed and red light cameras aren't illegal in Ohio, as long as an officer is nearby, which Bauchmoyer said there is.
Most cities stopped using them while the Ohio Supreme Court decides whether the devices are constitutional. A decision is expected by summer.
"It's not unusual to capture 35-40 violations a day and that's just at 35 or above," said Bauchmoyer.
He added speeding tickets start at $125 a pop, and if not paid promptly can include hefty late fees. If you don't pay it, you'll be turned over to a collections agency.
"It's not meant to bankrupt you. It's meant to spank you in the wallet, teach you a lesson," said Bauchmoyer. "Since you don't have the ability to learn by looking at the sign, it's designed to hit you in the wallet."
The images captured by the cameras are uploaded to Brekford, a company in Maryland, which mails out a civil citation. It's not reported to the BMV, insurance companies or the courts.
"It's a consequence to breaking the law," said the chief.
Soon, Brice could soon face a consequence.
The fines are paid directly to the village, which the chief said splits them 50/50 with Brekford.
"In my view, it's a breach of the public trust," said State Representative Hearcel Craig, whose district includes Brice.
He's getting ready to introduce a bill that caps civil traffic fines that municipalities like Brice, that don't have a mayor's court, may impose.
"(I'm just) making sure that no matter where our residents are in this state that it's fair and it's just. And quite frankly in this case, it's not fair and it's not just. "
Representative Bill Seitz, of Cincinnati, said he's on board.
"As soon as the Ohio Supreme Court issues its ruling in the pending case, I'm confident that we will put this on the frontburner again," said Seitz. "And try to restrict policing for profit, which is really what this is all about."
He said while the village is obeying the law, something needs to change.
"Speaking personally, I would have no hesitation in seeing Brice go the way of New Rome," said Seitz.
New Rome, a small village in Western Franklin County, was dissolved in 2004. It also was infamous for being a speed trap, among other things.
Drivers who get a traffic citation in Brice can contest it in front of a hearing officer, one sent to the village by Brekford, the camera company.