Reverend: Church attendance hurt by speed cameras in Elmwood

CINCINNATI - The controversial speed cameras placed in Elmwood have caused impacted not only drivers and businesses but also a nearby church.

Our Lady of Lavang, located on Township Avenue, is where Rev. Chau Pham conducts mass in Vietnamese for his parishoners.

Rev. Pham says since the cameras were installed the pews have been empty. He claims the speed traps kept members of his congregation away.

"In Vietnam we lived in a country controlled by communists so you were so afraid of the secret police in that way and secret police affected you, people's lives and make people's lives uncomfortable," said Rev. Pham.

Members of his congregation would drive 30 minutes or more to attend mass in Vietnamese and the cameras issued hundreds of tickets to what he describes as his hard working flock.

"I was a little bit sad because when people knew that they got caught in that way they said, 'I may not come to the church because we just came here for awhile and we have to work hard and then suddenly we went to this place to worship and we got a ticket,'" said Pham.

He wasn't afraid about the ticket he received but business owner Terry Howe certainly believed the cameras violated his rights.

"I felt pretty violated and I felt that this is just un-American not right against everything we believe in etc. and felt that I didn't even recall the day that it happened until I got into it and started researching where I was," said Howe.

Howe got his ticket after the judge ordered the village to stop which is why Elmwood now faces a contempt of court motion.

On Thursday, Attorney Mike Allen filed an amended complaint that would add class-action allegations on behalf of drivers who were affected by the city's automated traffic enforcement program. This would be an amendment to a previous lawsuit he filed against the city.

The suit is seeking repayment from the city for the tickets.

In the meantime, now that the cameras are no longer issuing be used to issue tickets his congregation is growing again but for a time he was down 20 percent or more.

"They're happy and coming back and hope that they'll come back more and more," said Rev. Pham.

 

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