Ripley residents upset over speeding tickets

There was standing room only at the April 25 Ripley Village Council meeting as over 35 residents gathered to express their complaints over speeding tickets.
The recent implementation of a handheld radar system that photographs the license plates on speeding vehicles, then automatically issues a citation directly to the speeder was the topic of controversy.
Many issues were brought up by residents, including a discrepancy in the actual times that the flashing speed limit signs in front of the high school come on and go off.
On April 26, according to Ripley police officer Josh Miller, he met with Susie Skinner, principal at Ripley High School and with ODOT, concerning the exact time the lights were to come on.
“The village will now be in control of the lights at the elementary and the high school,” Officer Miller said. “We have agreed that the lights in front of the high school in the morning will come on at 7:15 a.m. and go off at 8:15 a.m. The after school lights will come on from 2:45 to 3:15 p.m.. During those times, the speed limit will be 20 mph, and we will be enforcing that speed limit. We will keep those kids safe.”
During the meeting several people spoke up, including Kyle Utter, who stated that he was not a resident of Ripley, but often traveled through the village.
“First, I’d like to ask council if a traffic study was done before the speed cameras were approved,” Utter said. “I would also like to ask if this new radar system is actually about public safety and enforcing the law, or is it just a cash grab for the police department?
“Most people would just take their ticket and move on, but it isn’t like that and everyone here knows that.”
Ripley Police Chief, Joel Barnett quickly responded and explained to Utter and the crowd that the village was not making any more money than it would otherwise be from traffic court.
“We’ve been using radar to catch speeders for a long time,” Barnett said. “This Lidar system is a bit different because it’s hand-held and not attached to the cruiser. And as far as more money goes, it’s actually about the same. A ticket for $110 or $120 or whatever the amount, out split is 60%. And in the end, when it goes through our traffic court system, by the time the state takes a part, the county takes a part and the system gets a part, the figures are almost identical.
“So we’re not changing much, we’re simply catching more speeders, keeping our kids save in school zones.
“The high school students don’t have sidewalks to use, so it can be very dangerous for them, especially when drivers are going 60 mph past them.”
Another woman who had received a ticket for going 6 mph over the speed limit did commend the Ripley Police Department for the job they were doing but she would have felt much better had an actual officer pulled her over and talked to her personally.
Officer Miller told the crowd that at least two officers see the citations before they are sent, by computer, to the company the village is working with. The two officers have the option to not send the citation if they see a problem. He also said that any and all tickets can be contested in court.
Several other residents spoke at the meeting regarding their concerns, but nearly everyone who did speak, commended the Ripley Police Department for the job they were doing.
Mayor Leonard thanked everyone for attending the meeting and expressing their concerns. He added that everything that had been brought up will be looked at seriously.