5 Providence cops assigned to review speed camera violations

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – With Providence averaging 369 speed camera violations a day, the police department now has five officers assigned to review each incident before any $95 tickets are mailed.

As it stands now, three of the cops – a sergeant and two patrolmen – are currently on light duty, while two other officers were reassigned to monitor the speed camera violations, according to Lindsay Lague, a spokesperson for the police department.

But Councilman Michael Correia is raising concern about whether the department will have to add even more manpower to issue tickets once six additional speed cameras start generating violations later this month.

“It is still alarming that we had to take some officers of the street,” Correia, a Democrat who represents the Mount Pleasant and Manton neighborhoods, said. The councilman said he also wants to know what happens when the people on light duty can return to their permanent jobs.

Correia said he was initially concerned because he thought five cops were pulled from previous jobs, but acknowledged “it makes me feel better” that it was only two. The city contract with speed camera vendor Conduent State and Local Solutions Inc. includes a provisions that states the city “agrees to provide additional police and municipal court staff to accommodate the review and appeal process” associated with the violations.

State law requires an officer to review each case before a violation notice can be sent. Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare has said it takes cops approximately one minute to analyze each video.

Mike Imondi, the president of the city’s police union, said “no one is being pulled off their beats to review cameras,” but acknowledged that two officers did apply for positions the review the violations. He said other officers will be allowed to apply for the vacant positions.

In the meantime, Imondi said, the open jobs are “filled by other officers on the shift or overtime if necessary to fill minimum-manning requirements.”

The new speed cameras became a hot-button issue in the city last week after Target 12 reported that more than 12,000 speeding camera tickets from five locations were issued during the first 33 days of the program. Hundreds of alleged violators appeared in court Monday to challenge the tickets, and Municipal Court Judge Frank agreed to dismiss dozens of cases citing errors in the process.

Tickets can be issued for any vehicle caught traveling at least 11 miles per hour over the posted speed limit between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, according to the city’s contract with Conduent, which oversees both speed cameras and red light cameras in the city. The cameras are also portable, and the city’s contract with Conduent allows for two to be moved to new locations each week.

Six new cameras became operational Monday, but the city decided to implement a two-week warning period before issuing tickets in those locations.

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Dan McGowan (dmcgowan@wpri.com) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook