By Amanda Ensinger
As Franklin Township cracks down on speeders in the area, several residents are taking issue with the new processing, saying the township has turned into a speed trap.
Late last year, Franklin Township introduced a new handheld camera system that allows them to more efficiently enforce speed limits and reduce traffic accidents. Using the handheld cameras, deputies have been positioned at high traffic areas where there has been increased speeding and accidents. Among these locations is Frank Road.
However, several residents have expressed concerns about the new ticketing process, saying they are being unfairly targeted, and the township is using the new system as a way of generating revenue and not protecting residents.
Franklin Township Police Chief Byron Smith said this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“We have two major complaints – drugs and speeding,” Smith said. “We only have so many tax dollars to work off of and this new system allows us to use our resources in the most efficient ways possible. We have the highest overdose rate in the county and one of the highest in the state, this new system allows us to focus on these issues even more.”
Smith said on average it takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes per traffic stop. By using a camera system during peak speeding hours, the township is able to stretch their resources further because officers are eliminating time on traffic stops.
The handheld camera system is used by one officer during the school hours, which is peak speeding time, according to Smith. Typically, the township has four officers on first shift, four officers on second shift and three officers on third shift.
Residents are ticketed for going 10 miles per hour or more over the speed limit, according to Smith. Several residents complained about getting tickets for going slightly over the speed limit, something Smith and township leadership adamantly deny.
“The township has never issued a citation for any less than 12 miler per hour over the speed limit,” Smith said. “If anyone is getting a ticket for going less than 10 miles over the limit, please contact me because that means there is an issue with our system. Our system is setup to not send tickets to anyone for going less than 10 mile per hour over the speed limit.”
Trustee John Fleshman echoed this saying he would love to see if anyone has gotten a ticket for going less than 10 mile per hour.
“If someone can show me a ticket they got for going less than 10 miles per hour, I will pay it myself,” Fleshman said. “Speeding is a big issue in this township and we have had multiple deaths as a result of it. We need to address this safety issue.”
However, Fleshman said they are not enacting this new system in an effort to generate more revenue.
“If we never write another ticket again and everyone goes the speed limit, we would be happy,” Fleshman said. “We started using these cameras to protect residents and have been transparent about this entire process.”
The township has issued more than 3,800 tickets from December 2018 to mid-March 2019. This has resulted in approximately $104,000 in revenue for the township. As of mid-March, these funds were broken up and distributed to the general fund, road department, police department and a scholarship fund.
“Sixty percent of the received fines goes to the police department. This money helps with equipment and manpower to address the other major complaint we have,” Smith said. “Ten percent of the money is diverted to roads, 2 percent of the money received is put away for a scholarship fund for graduating seniors at Franklin Heights and 28 percent of the money received goes to the general fund to be used for community projects.”
According to Smith and Fleshman, community projects could include a new community center for the region, sidewalk additions or improvements, creating another community garden or sponsoring more community clean-ups.
Each speeding ticket is priced at a flat $100 fee, according to Smith. This, he said, is lower than the average speeding ticket in Ohio, which starts at about $140 and goes up with an increase in speed.
“After receiving a ticket, a person has 30 days to contest it or pay it,” Fleshman said. “A magistrate will hear arguments for tickets and determine if the person should pay the ticket, have the ticket reduced or thrown out.”
For more information on the speed monitoring system in Franklin Township, visit www.franklin-township.com.