STEUBENVILLE - City Council members agreed to monitor pending legislation in the Ohio General Assembly aimed at outlawing traffic surveillance cameras in the state.
Sixth Ward Councilman David Lalich has proposed using traffic cameras with proper public notification in order to free up police officers.
"Mr. (Jim) Marquis is asking for help. I believe taking the radar people off the main streets in the city will create more of a police presence in our neighborhoods. We should post signs about the cameras at all city entrances and advertise the locations of the cameras in the Sunday newspaper. These type of cameras have caught fugitives, stolen cars and drug dealers," said Lalich.
"If the state says the cameras are legal we should look at them. But they should be used correctly. We have people speeding on Braybarton Boulevard," noted 2nd Ward Councilman Rick Perkins
"If you decide to proceed with this we would have to advertise a request for proposals and then decide which company would be awarded the bid. Council would then have to pass an ordinance and then see if there is a legal challenge," explained Law Director S. Gary Repella.
"I like the hands-on approach of stopping cars," said 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf.
Former law enforcement official and city resident Jim Mavromatis told council the traffic cameras "can be a two-edged sword."
"I see traffic violations every day. But you don't have enough police officers to sit on every corner as well as on Sunset Boulevard and state Route 7. You also have traffic from West Virginia and Pennsylvania every day. You are trying to change the habits of drivers. This is about safety, and the revenue from the cameras is secondary. It is a tool that should be looked at and looked at in the right way," Mavromatis said.
"It is a valuable tool that frees up officers to concentrate on certain areas of the city. Red light cameras have cut down on traffic accidents. As long as you can explain that to the citizens, they should support it," added Mavromatis.
First Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto said residents prefer crime cameras.
"If we do this there will be a lawsuit filed against the city," DiLoreto warned.
"I am in support of the cameras but want to be cautious on how we do this. I would like to have input from Mr. Marquis," said Councilman at large Kenny Davis.
Marquis could not attend the council meeting but was adamant in his opposition to traffic cameras when asked about them Tuesday afternoon.
"We have asked for more cops on the street. Councilman Lalich's answer is traffic cameras will keep our residents safe. Setting up traffic cameras will actually take another officer off the street to deal with the cameras. The cameras are not the answer," stated Marquis.