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Camera System Questions Need Answers Before Contract Is OK’d

Jamestown City Council members are being asked to approve a new speed camera system for school zones in Jamestown.

Council members had on their agenda for Monday’s work session a contract with Sensys Gatso for a speed camera system that would result in a $50 fine for anyone in a school zone going 11 miles over the speed limit. The city would receive 64% of the ticket revenue with Sensys Gatso keeping the rest.

There are several steps that need to be taken, but first and foremost, we would like to see how bad the problem is. Statistics compiled by the Jamestown Police Department show 370 traffic stops in school zones in 2018, 237 in 2019 and 115 in 2020. The majority of the issues are near Jamestown High School and Love Elementary School on North Main Street.

We’re curious, though, how many of those vehicle stops and car accidents happened during school hours? Is the contract necessary for all school zones? We note, for example, that Washington Middle School has had 13 vehicle stops and seven total accidents over three years. Bush Elementary has had six traffic stops and six accidents over three years.

It makes little sense to spend money on cameras in areas where there is little need for them.

We also note a recent speed trailer on Baker Street near Persell Middle School that was flashing lights long after school zone hours. We note Section 2.5 of the proposed contract with Sensys Gatso that says the cameras will be used on a continuous, 24-hour basis seven days a week. Those cameras should be programmed, of course, not to be writing 20 mile an hour speed violations when the legal speed limit through the area is actually 30 miles an hour.

Protecting children walking to and from school is important — but there are questions about this system that should be answered before a contract is approved.

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