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Dayton reactivates traffic ticket cameras after judge’s ruling

The city of Dayton reactivated the city’s red light and speed traffic cameras Monday afternoon, just hours after turning them off to comply with a new state law.

The cameras remain legal in Dayton, according to the city’s interpretation of an injunction issued over the weekend by a Lucas County judge in response to a city of Toledo lawsuit to keep the cameras active.

According to a state law passed last year, the cameras on Monday were supposed to be barred from issuing traffic tickets unless a police officer was on the scene. Dayton shut the cameras down at midnight, but reactivated them around 4:45 p.m.

Lucas County Judge Dean Mandros on Sunday granted Toledo’s request for a temporary injunction in a lawsuit challenging the state law. Mandros said his ruling means the status quo remains for now after he found that the city has “a high likelihood of success for prevailing on the constitutionality of its system,” The (Toledo) Blade reported.

Several cities around Ohio challenged the state law including Dayton, Springfield, Columbus and Akron.

The cities say that their home rule authority gives them the right to use the cameras. Dayton on Friday filed its own own challenge in Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. It also seeks an injunction.

“The injunction applies statewide,” said Lynn Donaldson, Dayton’s interim city attorney. “That is the history of injunctive relief. When a law is enjoined the law is enjoined. It’s the general legal principal - it cannot be enforced and put into effect.”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said she was pleased by the injunction.

“We know from the research we do that the way to lower traffic fatalities is to use technology to change behavior. We are glad the court says we have the right to police our roadways,” Whaley said.

The cameras have been a good revenue source in an era of shrinking municipal budgets. In 2014, the cameras brought in $2.5 million for the six communities in the Dayton region that have them.

Dayton, with more than 30 traffic cameras, saw $1.7 million in more revenue.

In Trotwood, cameras at midnight also stopped monitoring drivers for law violations. Trotwood Police Capt. John Porter said the city is seeking direction from legal counsel on how to handle the ruling.

“We are not doing anything until we get a good handle on where things are at,” he said. “We will follow current law that went into effect at midnight.”

Springfield suspended the use of red light cameras on Monday as well. The city filed its lawsuit last week.

City Law Director Jerry Strozdas said the city suspended its program until the “dust settles on this litigation,” but added that officials could revisit its decision.

“It could be that decision to suspend the program could be reconsidered,” Strozdas said. But Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said city commissioners will likely discuss the issue at its next meeting on March 31.

He said he believes city commissioners will elect to keep the cameras turned off until a final decision is reached on the litigation.

It’s the same story in West Carrollton. City manager Brad Townsend said the city’s law director is studying the injunction and that the cameras won’t issue tickets for now. “They will remain inactive until I get further analysis from the law director and direction from council,” Townsend said.

Nationwide 469 communities have red light violation cameras and 137 have speed cameras. Locally, other communities with traffic cameras are Hamilton and Middletown.

Springfield News-Sun reporter Tiffany Y. Latta contributed to this report.

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