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Cities need to be able to enforce traffic laws

December 14, 2012
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith , Fairmont Sentinel

The state of Iowa is clashing with some local units of government over the cities' use of and desire to use traffic enforcement cameras. The state is involved because some cameras are put up on roads governed by the Iowa Department of Transportation. These include U.S. and state highways.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are keeping an eye on the issue, because they are pressured by leaders of cities within their districts. They also get the opposite pressure from constituents, some of whom do not like police using the camera technology. To these citizens, it feels like Big Brother is watching.

What's the solution to all of this?

Cities have a right to enforce local laws. They can put up traffic cameras on locally controlled roads without consulting the state. That makes sense.

The state should give cities a lot of discretion on decisions to put up traffic cameras on state-governed roads. Yes, they are state-governed, but local police have to deal with lawbreakers and crashes in their communities. Why not give them the benefit of the doubt?

State lawmakers should recognize that police are trying to do their jobs. If they believe it is OK for drivers to blow through red lights or commit other acts that are currently unlawful, legislators have it within their power to change the laws. We assume they won't, because traffic laws make sense. If drivers obey the laws, they cannot be ticketed.



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