Providence City Council calls for review of speed camera program

The speed camera program in Providence has come under intense scrutiny. (WJAR)

The Providence City Council introduced three resolutions Thursday night aimed at improving the city’s controversial speed cameras.

“This is important to the entire City Council and we will be looking at it sooner than later,” said Providence City Council President David Salvatore.

More than 17,000 tickets have been issued to drivers speeding in school zones. Fines have totaled more than $600,000, with tickets at $95 apiece.

“A $95 ticket can make someone not pay their rent or get them be evicted,” said Lisa Scorpio. “It’s a disgrace.”

Council members said the ticket price would have to be changed by the General Assembly but the city can look to make other changes.

“I think the rollout could have been better,” Salvatore said.

Several of the cameras have been vandalized, including one on Thurbers Avenue, as well as another near Mount Pleasant High School.

City Councilor Sabina Matos told NBC 10 News the cameras are upsetting many residents.

“They are calling me and saying, ‘Listen, I had no idea there were cameras. I don’t think this is fair,’” she said.

Matos said she’s heard a lot from the Latino community, as well.

“You won’t believe how hard the conversation has been on the Spanish radio, people calling and complaining,” she said.

The resolutions were forwarded to a finance committee for review.

The first calls for a full review of the speed camera program, including the time of day the cameras are operating.

“My ticket was on a Saturday at 2 p.m., so I’m sure everybody was in school at that time,” Octavio Pereria said sarcastically.

The second resolution aims to stop the installation of more cameras until signage and education is improved.

“Each location that I view, the signage gives different hours of operation,” said Councilman Michael Correia.

The third resolution asks that money generated from speed camera tickets goes to school safety initiatives.

Others just want to see the cameras taken down.

“It feels like we’re living in a zoo and we’re being monitored,” said Hamlet Lopez.

The city plans to install 15 cameras in school zones across Providence.

About 11 are installed and operating.

“We don’t have enough police officers to stand there with a radar gun and catch speeders,” Correia said.

Correia told NBC 10 he plans to write a letter to Mayor Jorge Elorza Friday, asking to stop the speed camera program for 30 days until a full review can be done.

The mayor has yet to give any interviews about the matter.

Instead, his spokesman Victor Morente sent out a statement on Thursday.

“With regard to the cameras, the City has heard from people who are thankful for the cameras and in support of their function, as well as people who are upset,” according to the statement. “The City remains committed to the cameras as a way to ensure public safety, especially in areas where students, teachers and families spend time. The City is also open to reasonable changes to the state law.”

Meanwhile, other communities are considering installing the speed cameras.

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