Letter: Some police agencies will abuse court ruling

First Posted: 6/16/2010

My 50 years in law enforcement convince me that the recent Ohio Supreme Court ruling that allows police officers to estimate the speed of a moving vehicle goes too far, and the Ohio Legislature needs to come up with something to counteract it. Unquestionably, there are officers who can estimate speeds accurately, but the possibility for abuse far outweighs the benefits.

I am convinced that traffic enforcement should be done for safety reasons only. The idea of using traffic citations as means of producing revenue is noxious to me, but the fact remains that it is done. There are too many police agencies that use speeding tickets, usually involving nonresidents, as a means of revenue. This includes some in our area. Pressure from city and village councils to keep the revenue coming could easily cause some officers to fudge the figures as a means of maintaining job security.

There are some situations where estimates should be allowed, but only as a means of adding an element to an offense that might involve both speed and some other action, such as a charge involving reckless or unsafe operation. Allowing an estimate with a range of 5 mph to 10 mph in order to substantiate such a charge should be acceptable. Allowing an officer to substantiate a speeding only charge within a narrow range is only asking for trouble for the motoring public, and has no real public safety benefit.

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