Businesses may suffer from Elmwood Place speed traps

CINCINNATI - Steve Williams stormed down to the Elmwood Place Police Department after he read his mail.

"Man, I'm not paying a ticket...[because] someone [took] a picture of my car and said I was speeding," he said.

He is one of literally thousands of drivers who have gotten tickets for speeding in the village in the last few days.

"This is one ticket I will fight," he vowed.

He's angry because the alleged offense wasn't observed by an officer in Elmwood Place, but by a machine.

"You better get a policeman out here to write me a ticket and tell me what I did, and I'll pay the ticket," Williams said.

Three automated speed enforcement machines were deployed by police, but operated by Optotraffic, out of Lanham, Md.

The units were placed on Township Avenue, Vine Street and Prosser Avenue.

A company spokesman says the Prosser Avenue machine was taken out of service in the village, leaving the other two.

"Optotraffic is a vendor to Elmwood Place," said Tim Ayers, with the company. "In the same way that someone who supplies radar guns or police cruisers would be."

The company does all the paperwork, then sends the citations to the police for approval.

Lots of citations, which include a photograph of the car, the license plate, and where to send the money.

Optotraffic spokesman Tim Ayers says that during the two week trial period, they observed more than 20,000 violations.

Village secretary Sheila Dornbusch says her office has been flooded with complaints about the tickets.

Some drivers were also upset that they couldn't pay the ticket at the town hall, like other tickets. You have to send it to Cleveland or pay by phone.

For the second day, the mayor did not respond to requests for an interview about the situation. Elmwood Place police did release information to 9 News about the speed cameras in a document detailing their purpose and FAQ about the cameras.

Elmwood police say the automated speed enforcement systems (speed cameras) will be placed in various locations based on need to increase motorist and pedestrian safety.

Police Chief William Peskin confirmed off camera that the machine will generate, and the police will issue, multiple tickets to drivers even on the same day for speeding.

"Both locations have serious speeding problems," said Chief Peskin in a release. "This was confirmed during our survey period when more than 20,000 speed violations were recorded in just two weeks. In some cases, drivers were traveling at more than twice the posted speed limit."

To read Elmwood Place's full explanation of the placement of the cameras, go to http://media2.wcpo.com/pdfs/ElmwoodPlacespeedcameras.pdf .

The tickets themselves have a misprint, saying the location of the offense is Elmwood Place, Md., not Ohio.

Whether that point will be taken into account by an Elmwood Place magistrate remains to be seen.

In the meantime, word is out that the village is an expensive speed trap.

"I'm telling everyone, don't drive through Elmwood if this is the price you got to pay," said Steve Williams.

Barbara Scott was scared to come down to Catherine's Diner on Vine Street.

"My daughter told me, do not come this way," she said.

Despite her fears, she made it in for a meatloaf dinner.

When she relayed the warning to the diner's owner, Cathrine Jones, the struggling businesswoman felt it was another nail in the restaurant's coffin.

"They're afraid they may get a ticket, then they may not want to come over [to eat]," Jones said. "I may have to shut down."

Just where are the Elmwood Place speed cameras? Find them in the map below (Mobile and tablet users go to WCPO.com to see the map).

View Elmwood Place speed cameras in a larger map

Read the original report at http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/region_central_cincinnati/elmwood_place/elmwood-place-speed-cameras-nab-plenty.

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