Lawmaker wants to put brakes on traffic cameras in RI

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP/WPRI) — A Rhode Island lawmaker says he has introduced legislation to end the use of traffic cameras, as thousands of people in Providence were contesting tickets they received from a new school zone speed camera program that resulted in thousands of citations in its first month.

Republican Rep. Anthony Giarrusso, of East Greenwich, says legislation he introduced last week would eliminate all red-light and speed cameras. He says the tickets are unfair because they go to the car’s registered owner, rather than the person driving the car.

“You can call it school safety, but it’s a money grab,” Giarrusso said.

As the Target 12 Investigators first reported, the city of Providence issued 12,193 tickets in 33 days from five new speed cameras. Each costs $95. Hundreds of people flooded municipal court Monday to contest their tickets. Municipal Court Chief Judge Frank Caprio dismissed dozens of the tickets, calling the initial batch mailed out in January “inadequate.”

A city councilwoman has called for better community education before more are installed.

A law paving the way for red light cameras was originally passed in 2005. It was amended in 2016 to allow speed cameras to operate within a quarter of a mile of school zones.

“I question the constitutionality of it,” Giarrusso said. “It just seems like it’s a privacy issue. This camera knows everybody that travels on this road, regardless of whether they’re speeding or not. Who’s compiling the data? It just doesn’t feel right to me.”

“This just another example of using technology to make people safe in those particular zones,” Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré told Target 12.

Target 12 went back into R.I. House records and found the vote to approve speed cameras in 2016 was 54 to 16. The amendment became law without Gov. Gina Raimondo’s signature.