YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Youngstown police are hoping their newest gadget will convince drivers to slow down and that will help reduce accidents, which will allow officers to spend more time on patrol.
Officers showed off the department’s new laser traffic cameras Friday morning on the south side and on Interstate 680. The cameras were supplied through a company known as Opto-Traffic.
The officer points the device at oncoming cars and trucks, presses the trigger and images of the car and license plate are then captured on a hand-held computer pad. Police said only those who are speeding beyond a programmed threshold will be recorded.
“If you are able to reduce speeding by 50 percent, that will save roughly 156 patrol hours that we can further allocate to driving through neighborhoods, other projects that we have going on, calls for service,” Youngstown Police Lt. Bill Ross said.
Under the contract with Opto-Traffic, police will upload the images they get to the company, which will verify the identity of the driver and mail out citations.
The city and the company will then split the traffic ticket revenues 65 percent to 35 percent.
“Contrary to what everybody thinks, we can dial these things in, everything is completely automated. There is no interaction with the officer whatsoever, other than we pull the trigger,” Ross said.
In the time our news crew spent with Ross, dozens of drivers were caught speeding well beyond the posted limit. One Honda was caught doing 49 in a 25-mile an hour zone.
Police say the goal is to encourage drivers to reduce their speed and cut down the numbers of accidents. With more than 200 crashes on Interstate 680 alone last year, Ross believes if that number could be cut in half, it would save roughly 160 hours officers spent investigating accidents.
“Looking at it another way, it is like adding an extra officer to the department at no cost to the taxpayers,” Ross said.
While officers spend the month training on the new cameras, speeding drivers will only be sent warnings/ But citations could start going out in the next few weeks.