In a decisive 6-1 vote, the Dubuque City Council has given the green light to an ordinance introducing automated speed cameras to the city. The majority of council members believe that this initiative will promote safer roads by encouraging drivers to adhere to speed limits. However according to a report from the Telegraph Herald, Council Member David Resnick, the sole dissenting vote, expressed apprehensions about potential financial burdens on residents and the potential disparate impact on low-income neighborhoods.

Credit: Photitos2016
Credit: Photitos2016

City Manager, Mike Van Milligen even stated in his memo to council members that:

Cons of the system include, not being popular with some people. It is not perfect. However, there is oversight. A police officer is required to review the violations identified by the ASE system. There is also an appeal process. Citations are issued to registered owners, which some people will argue this is not fair to the owner as it may not be the owner driving the vehicle. Conversely, others would argue, the owner is responsible for the use of their vehicle and who they allow to drive the vehicle.

Police car on road with flash lights and siren at day
Credit: GummyBone

City staff will now continue with the selection of a vendor to supply and maintain the cameras, while also creating a comprehensive policy to govern camera locations and usage. Although the exact sites for camera installation remain undetermined, Police Chief Jeremy Jensen assures that data-driven criteria will guide their location selections.

Credit: Christopher Furlong
Credit: Christopher Furlong

Once operational, these cameras will identify vehicles exceeding speed limits, with local officers reviewing potential violations before issuing civil citations and fines. The fine structure ranges from $100 to $500, taking into account factors such as vehicle speed, location (school or construction zone), and prior offenses.

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Notably, fines may be waived for first-time offenders speeding 20 mph or less over the limit, with a 50% reduction for second offenses. However, these benefits do not extend to violations in construction or school zones. Vehicle owners with a third violation have the option to complete community service, reducing their total fine by half.

School zone speed limit sign in front of trees
Credit: Garrett Aitken

Overall the purpose of the request for Automated Speed Enforcement was based upon several factors, according to a memo from Chief of Police Jeremy Jensen:

1. A Safe and Livable Community is a City Council priority. If I can provide methods
to promote proactive safety measures, then it is my job to propose those ideas.

2. With staff shortages and hiring impediments, finding force multiplier methods that
leverage technology that can be used to address:

a. Crash prevention,
b. Reduction in crash severity,
c. Addressing frequent complaints about speed enforcement,
d. Promoting officer safety, and
e. To reduce bias or perceived bias in stops.

Woman in car signing speeding ticket for policeman
Credit: moodboard

The City Council's decision stems from city staff's assertion that automated speed cameras will contribute to heightened traffic safety by prompting slower speeds. As the city moves forward with implementation, the balance between privacy, safety, and financial implications will be closely monitored

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