The Ottumwa Courier

AP Iowa

October 31, 2013

Iowa police chiefs defend traffic cameras

ANKENY, Iowa (AP) — Several Iowa police chiefs spoke out Wednesday against proposed rules for traffic cameras, but a state official said the chiefs are just protecting a revenue source.

The Des Moines Register reports (http://dmreg.co/18Fpzan ) the chiefs spoke at a public hearing in Ankeny sponsored by the Iowa Transportation Department about proposed rules requiring local officials to explore and implement other options for traffic issues before placing cameras on state highways. The proposed rules would not apply to city or county roads.

The proposed Transportation Department rules also would allow the placement of cameras only in areas with a history of crashes or in school zones, and the cameras couldn't be considered a long-term solution to problems.

Police chiefs argued at the hearing that the cameras are reducing crashes by catching people speeding and running red lights.

Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman said traffic safety along Interstate 380 has improved significantly since cameras were installed.

"The trend is undeniable: zero deaths, fewer injuries and fewer crashes overall," Jerman said.

Des Moines police Lt. Mark Buzynski said the city's mobile speed cameras allow police to deal with neighborhood complaints without assigning an officer to a location.

Buzynski called the cameras "very cost-effective and economical."

But Transportation Department director Paul Trombino said city officials were primarily interested in the cameras as a revenue source

"This is revenue disguised as safety," Trombino said.

Trombino went on to compare the local government camera systems to pirates who once sought "the bounty of ships" sailing through coastal waters.

Tom Stanberry, a lawyer for the Iowa Insurance Institute, said studies show the cameras reduce the most serious accidents, and he asked that the proposed rules be changed to make them more workable for local governments.

No decisions were made Wednesday.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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