The County Commission on Wednesday voted 5-4 to allow the sheriff's office to use laser video cameras to catch speeders and send them $50 tickets by mail.
Sheriff Jim Hammond said the initial two cameras will be used mainly on dangerous narrow roads where it is unsafe to pull speeders over.
He said half of the revenue would go to the firm supplying the cameras, Applied Technology Partners. Of the $25 going to the county, half of that would be used to pay for young people who live in the unincorporated county to get driver training.
He said the ticket would not add points against a driver's record.
In favor were Greg Beck, Larry Henry, Marty Haynes, Jim Fields and Chester Bankston.
Opposed were Tim Boyd, Joe Graham, Warren Mackey and Fred Skillern.
The sheriff's office plans to use the city's driver training. Caroline Johnson said 1,800 youths have gone through the city driver training program in which the youth pays $50 for the $400 course. The rest is covered by income from the city speed camera program.
The data from the camera will be uploaded to the company, which is located in Brentwood, Tn. That firm will send out the citations. It has a collection agency to use in cases of people who do not pay.
The person getting the ticket has the option to appeal to General Sessions Court.
Commissioner Beck said he was in favor mainly because of the issue of officer safety. He said officers are putting their life on the line "each time they go up to that window."
Sheriff Hammond said patrol officers will still have the option of stopping a vehicle in an egregious situation.
Capt. Charles Lowrey, who is over patrol, said the laser can zero in on a speeder and not have a problem of blurring in with other vehicles as does radar.
The ticket will go to the person who the vehicle is registered to.
Dee Hobbs, assistant county attorney, said he knows of no constitutional prohibitions against the program, but he noted that such programs "are unpopular."
Commissioner Marty Haynes said it could help on narrow, curvy roads in his district. He said there have been several fatalities on Fairview Road.
Commissioner Bankston said he liked the idea of sending more youths to driver training.
Commissioner Boyd said he had a problem with a private company "fee grabbing." He said, "I don't want to generate an offense to try to make money."
Commissioner Graham said he could see benefits to the program, but he was not ready to support it. He said red light cameras in Red Bank had decimated traffic to its businesses.
In other action, the commission approved a contract with Mountain View Chevrolet for 30 patrol cars for the sheriff's office. There were 14 bidders.
Also approved were some of the final resolutions for the new section of the Tennessee Riverwalk that is set to start soon from Ross's Landing in the direction of St. Elmo.
One was increasing the design contract with Barge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon by $317,500 and the project inspection cost with the same firm will be $720,000.
Cost of an easement from PSC Metals will be $50,000.
The commission approved architects for new facilities for several volunteer fire companies.
Artech Design Group will design the Dallas Bay fire hall #2 addition. Hefferlin + Kronenberg will design a new Tri-Community fire hall #3. Michael Brady will design the new Sale Creek fire hall headquarters.
Th The sheriff provided this data about the system:·
· The camera is manually operated by the deputy who observes the violating driver / vehicle.
· The LIDAR device measures the distance and speed utilizing laser technology and photographs the vehicle and license number.
· The violator receives the citation through the mail, or it can be issued manually (traffic stop) by the deputy who would write a citation and / or make an arrest.
OTHER HCSO SPEED REDUCTION PROGRAMS:
· This is simply another tool for HCSO to use in our arsenal to fight against speeding and accidents. It will not be replacing any other speed reduction program now in effect.
· Revenue from this program will not be taking from any other speed reduction program now in effect.
WILL BE USED:
· In high accident areas
In school zones and work zones
· In areas where the deputy, the driver and civilian safety will be an issue (Fairview Rd.)
· In subdivisions (reduces dangerous conditions involving children and reduces citizen complaints)
RESULTS / EFFECTS:
· Reduces crashes, and therefore, injuries to drivers, victims, etc.
· Saves lives
· Does not cause traffic backup on the roadway
· Positively affects traffic flow
· Uses much less of a deputy time than a traffic stop
· Greatly reduces the deputies’ time in court which allows them to spend more time performing their duties on the roads.
· Because of the fact that the LIDAR is “manned by a deputy” at the scene
· Because the driver has the right to appear in court with the deputy present
· This has been challenged several times in Tennessee
· The citation is $50 which will be split between the vendor and county’s General Fund.
· HCSO is requesting that one half of the county’s $25 revenue portion be used to fund a driver’s education program for county high school students.
· Driver’s Education Programs have been shown to reduce both accidents and fatalities within high school age demographics and will give the county’s young drivers the opportunity to learn uniform, proven defensive driving techniques while utilizing common sense and responsibility for their actions.