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Traffic cameras not a good idea

Mingo Junction officials may be seeing nothing but green with the idea of bringing in a radar and photo speed-enforcement system.

But anyone driving through the village, including along state Route 7, will be seeing red if and when the speeding letters start arriving in the mail.

The village finds itself in a desperate situation when it comes to money, but has survived the past several years thanks to the efforts of officials who have been willing to make cuts and be fiscally responsible.

Now is not the time to get greedy.

Don’t believe village officials and police officers who say they are most concerned about safety.

The village currently has a four-member police department and does issue traffic citations to violators.

Steubenville tried the traffic cameras years ago, but the courts said the unmanned cameras weren’t legal. Then city residents approved a ballot measure to do away with the ordinance authorizing the traffic cameras. Residents said “no.”

The current system, used by several communities in Columbiana County, uses a police officer to aim the radar at passing vehicles. The system also takes a picture of license plates. The owner gets a letter in the mail, stating it is a civil offense.

The village will be working with the company that supplies the radar and photo speed-enforcement system. Of course, it will be provided at no charge to the village. The catch is the company will get 40 percent of the profits derived from the speeding infractions, leaving 60 percent for the village.

Mingo Junction Police Chief Joe Sagun said officers using the radar and photo speed-enforcement system will still give drivers about an 8 mph gap over the speed limit. The officers will still have the discretionary decision on whether to issue the traffic infraction.

The village still can enforce the traffic laws of the village the traditional way.

A four-member police department can best be used with officers driving around town, doing good old-fashioned police work of checking neighborhoods and businesses. The valuable time of the officers shouldn’t be wasted pointing a camera at unsuspecting drivers. Such a move might make money at first, but it eventually will lead to the driving public identifying Mingo Junction as a speed trap.

Village officials need to take a long hard look at the radar and photo speed-enforcement system. Ask the residents. They might just say “no.”

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