Bankston Getting Flood Of Complaints Over New Speeding Ticket Camera; Will Bring Issue Back Up And Vote No; Henry Also Switching

Thursday, February 20, 2014

County Commissioner Chester Bankston said Thursday he is getting a flood of complaints about a 5-4 vote to allow the sheriff's office to use laser video cameras to catch speeders and send them $50 tickets by mail.

He said he has decided to bring the issue back up next Wednesday.

"My butt's chewed up. This time I will be voting no," the District 9 commissioner said.

Commissioner Larry Henry had the same reaction, saying he is switching his vote.

He said, "We had a combined meeting with both the agenda session and regular meeting, and there was really not enough time to study this. With the agenda session, we have a week to get feedback from the community."

Commissioner Henry said he was attracted to the program because some of the funds were to be used for driver education for young people. But he said, "There's not enough revenue involved to have any kind of effective program."

He also said, "I have always been opposed to government surveillance, eavesdropping and any kind of invasion of privacy."

Commissioner Henry said, "We will probably take this out next week."

He said he tried to table the issue on Wednesday morning, "but they wanted to go ahead and vote on it." 

Commissioner Bankston said, "I have been hearing from too many constituents. I listen to my constituents."

He said residents feel the program is "fee grabbing" and that those who get tickets should have contact with someone charging them rather than just getting a ticket in the mail.

Commissioner Bankston said it was not too late to reverse the program. "No contracts have been signed."

Voting in favor on Wednesday were Commissioners Henry, Bankston, Greg Beck, Marty Haynes and Jim Fields.

Voting against were Tim Boyd, Warren Mackey, Joe Graham and Fred Skillern.

Sheriff Jim Hammond said the initial two cameras would 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's training.


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