PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – First they approved them. Now every member of the Providence City Council is calling for a full review of the city’s new school-zone speed cameras.
Council President David Salvatore said Friday the council plans to analyze the entire program, including the violation process, the cost of fines, hours of operation, signage and the effort to educate the public about the new cameras.
“We have heard from our constituents regarding their valid concerns related to aggressive driving throughout our city,” Salvatore said. “The goal of the portable speed enforcement camera program is to make Providence safer, and I fully support its intended use as a traffic-calming measure and to deter speeding in school zones. However, this should not be construed as a money-making operation for the city.”
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The entire 15-member, all-Democratic council has signed on to support the review, which comes after Target 12 first reported more than 12,000 tickets were issued in the first 33 days of the program. The total number of tickets has now surged past 17,000. Earlier this week, Municipal Court Chief Judge Frank Caprio agreed to dismiss dozens of violations, citing errors with the ticketing process.
The cameras will continue issuing violations while the council conducts its review, according to Emily Crowell, a spokesperson for the Elorza administration.
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 State and Local Solutions Inc., the private vendor that 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.
The review will also come as state lawmakers draft changes to the law that allows for the traffic cameras, first approved in 2016. The city deployed the cameras in January. Among the state and local proposals currently on the table:
- Republican state Rep. Anthony Giarrusso wants to ban traffic cameras altogether.
- House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello wants to amend the existing legislation, possibly requiring more warnings or a reduction in the ticket amount.
- Senate President Dominick Ruggerio has said he is open to considered legislative changes, citing the large number of tickets.
- Gov. Gina Raimondo has taken no position on the cameras, but said she is confident the General Assembly can work with cities and towns if changes to the law are necessary.
- Mayor Jorge Elorza has said he is opened to reducing the fine, but that would take a change in state law.
- Councilwoman Sabina Matos and six of her colleagues have called for an education campaign on the speed cameras.
- Councilman Nicholas Narducci would like a portion of all revenue generated from the speed cameras earmarked for school safety initiatives.
It wasn’t immediately clear how long it will take to complete the council review.
“We have a responsibility to our residents and visitors that public safety measures are implemented fairly, openly and without causing unreasonable hardship,” Salvatore said.