Providence Abuse of Speed Cameras Has State Legislators Pushing for Repeal

Friday, March 09, 2018
GoLocalProv News Team

Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello
The rapid rollout of speed cameras and thousands of $95 tickets issued in just weeks in Providence has drawn strong opposition, and now Rhode Island elected officials are pushing for legislation that addresses how traffic cameras are marked, where the revenue goes, or calls for their repeal altogether.

“These camera systems are nothing more than a government cash grab. They penalize the registered owner of a vehicle rather than the person actually driving which is unfair,” stated Senior Deputy Minority Leader Anthony Giarrusso, who appeared on GoLocal LIVE at the Rhode Island State House to discuss House Bill 7760, which would end the use of traffic cameras in Rhode Island -- which Giarrusso said he has been advocating for well before the speed camera rollout in Providence. 

Rep. Giarusso Interview

House Minority Whip Blake Filippi appeared on GoLocal LIVE at well at the State House, where he talked about legislation he is introducing pertaining to the sufficient identification of lower school zone driving speeds, as well as calling for camera revenue to go solely to a fund for school safety.

Money Grab vs. Safety Measures 

According to Giarrusso, as of March 5, "Traffic cameras have been at the center of controversy after Providence authorities placed five new speed cameras in school zones across the city with plans to add six more in the coming months. The system was authorized under the Automated School Zone Enforcement System Act of 2016, which allows speed cameras to operate within a quarter mile of any school."

"The system is active between 6 am and 8 pm every Monday through Saturday and has resulted in over 12,000 tickets so far, which could bring in up to $1.2 million for the city," said Giarrusso. 

Judge Frank Caprio
As GoLocal reported, long-time Providence Municipal Court Judge Frank Caprio said he "expects speed camera tickets to 'go up' in Providence:"

On Monday, Caprio heard six straight hours of violators challenging the City of Providence’s new speed cameras, when it was estimated more than 1,000 attended hearings at Providence Municipal Court at the Providence Public Safety Complex.

"It was really busy, and I did expect them to come out today," said Caprio. "We sent out close to 2,000 summons, we got a pretty good response. We were there from 8 a.m. to quarter of 2. It broke a record for the time I sat on the bench."


Rep. Filippi Interview

Opponents to the revenue-raising traffic enforcement measure -- including community activist Anthony Sionni -- decried the new policy by the City of Providence. 
“[Today] I witnessed hundreds of people pouring into the Public Safety complex during the morning and evening hours, all with $95 speed camera tickets. Some people had multiple tickets," said Sionni. "I accompanied a friend to court this morning and she had five tickets, she shares the vehicle with [her] parents. They are hard-working, have multiple jobs and the daughter attends college.  To think that they have to pay $475 in speeding tickets that they got in a short period of time is outrageous."

Providence Traffic Camera
Mattiello, Democrats on the issue

On Thursday, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he supported a proposal put forth by a Democratic colleague.

“I have mixed feelings about the school-zone speed cameras. Obviously, too many tickets have been given out.  However, I have a real concern about the safety of children and these drivers are exceeding the speed limit by at least 11 miles per hour near neighborhood schools,' said Mattiello. 

"While the intent of the cameras is laudable, I am working with Rep. Robert Craven to amend his 2016 legislation to provide warnings before tickets are issued and to reduce the fines," said Mattiello. "He is working with me and my legal staff on an amendment he intends to introduce next week.”

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