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Need for traffic cameras isn’t evident

February 11, 2010

The Marshalltown City Council was right to defeat a resolution that would implement traffic cameras.

Had the measure been approved, cameras would be placed at the area of Center Street and Iowa Avenue for both speed and intersection enforcement. The Sixth Street railroad crossing and the 12th Street crossing may have also received a camera.

Neither the city council, nor the Marshalltown Police Department ever made clear why they wanted to enter an agreement with Redflex Traffic Systems for automated traffic enforcement.

A solid number of violations that occurred during a 2009 study was never revealed. The study, performed by the police department, utilized red light camera enforcement. At that time Assistant Police Chief Brian Batterson said "quite a few" violations had occurred.

Meanwhile, a case for safety was never made, leaving us to wonder whether traffic cameras would truly make Marshalltown a safer community.

The one thing that did seem obvious? The money.

It appears Redlex would be getting most of the revenue with this agreement. For example, the company would receive as much as 74 percent, or $48, from a typical $65 speeding ticket. The city would get only $17.

Meanwhile, the agreement wouldn't take all of the work off the hands of local police officers.

The company would only provide video images to the police department for review.

The police department would then determine which vehicle owners were in violation of the city's traffic and rail crossing ordinances. Only after this determination, would the violator receive a traffic ticket.

Should the recipient of an automated traffic citation wish to dispute it, they would be required court appearance and the scheduling of a trial before a judge or magistrate at the Marshall County Courthouse. We feel that because traffic cameras would be new to our community, it has the potential to lay more burden on our local court system, one that is severely strained by state budget cuts.

Still, it seems the council was willing to consider this measure as a potential revenue resource, especially since safety was overshadowed in this discussion.

We're glad they didn't move forward with the agreement. Lastly, we'd also like to applaud the group of local citizens who approached the council about this matter during a winter storm.

Armed with research, they clearly conveyed their opposition to the traffic cameras. It's far too often that these views never make it to the podium.



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