Speed cameras under fire from East St. Louis residents

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EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (KPLR) - Speed cameras being operated by the East St. Louis Police Department are already falling under fire from residents, less than two months after being put into operation. Officers say the devices are intended to increase safety, but some residents believe they are nothing but a municipal money grab.

Cheryl Jackson had a number of complaints about the ticket she received in the mail recently. She got it on the Eades Bridge. The photo shows two other vehicles all but tailgating her, leading her to insist she wasn’t going the 20 miles per hour over the speed limit she was cited for.

But her biggest issue came when she arrived at a hearing to contest the ticket.

“I found the very officers that wrote the ticket, that took the reading from the gun, the speed gun, conducting court,” she said. “That’s the judge, jury, and executioner.”

East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Floore said Jackson, and others who are under the same impression, are mistaken. Officers are at the hearings, but not in charge.

“The hearing judge is a retired firefighter who sits as the judge in the hearing. There are two of our officers on the hearing who administrate the video.”

That’s just the first of many complaints, however. Telisa Franklin received a ticket in the mail and, at first, had no clue why. Then she remembered her son had her car out while he was home from college for Spring Break.

“I should not get a ticket if I’m not driving the car. Due process says the person behind the wheel is responsible for the ticket,” she insisted, saying her son is the one they need to call. “Take it up with him! Don’t’ take my money!

But Floore says the speed camera tickets are like insurance requirements. They are the responsibility of the vehicle’s owner. That would seem to be confirmed by Illinois law since IDOT has been using similar cameras in construction zones for some time.

The tickets run $240 each, a number that seems steep to the recipients we spoke to. However the chief points out state statute allows them to charge $375 and up for speeding in a construction zone. So, he says, East St. Louisans are receiving a break. He also believes they’re getting the point.

“I think the message has been put out that when you come through a construction zone you better slow down. I think the message is getting out there.”

Franklin begs to differ.

“To me it’s a blackmail fundraiser for our community to raise immediate cash.”