The Gonzales council introduced ten ordinances on Monday that are supposed to prevent speeding in school zones. Electronic Traffic Enforcement is proposed (Section 19-75 through Section 19-84) to implement cameras and speed cameras, as well as hyper-technical procedures to enforce the collection of fines issued by mail by an out-of-state contractor. the state. But the ordinance also establishes fines for speeding when motorists do not cross school zones.
“Lots of complaints from various areas about speeding, especially in school zones, with Orice Roth (Road) being the main issue…(Electronic Traffic Enforcement) is fine with us,” pressed Police Chief Sherman Jackson for prescriptions. “The safety of our children, which is at the top of the list.”
No one would object to such a statement. Citing an unpresented traffic study, Councilman John Berthelot claimed that “40% of motorists are driving 11 mph or more over the speed limit in our school zones.”
But nowhere in six pages of the newly proposed ordinance is the placement of traffic cameras limited to school zones (listed by Jackson to include Orice Roth Rd, Burnside Ave and Worthey Road).
“It is one thing, and one thing only,” assured the third-party provider. “It’s to slow individuals down. And it’s not a money grab” (although the claimant would retain 40% of any fines collected under an agreement that is not mentioned in the order ).
Numerous signs will be installed to warn motorists that they are entering a school zone with electronic traffic enforcement; a warning sign posted 250 to 500 feet before the laser calculated speed, another sign identifying the school zone, and a speed awareness display.
Ordinance 19-83 states that “money collected (less the 40% from the third-party provider that we assume) under this section shall be used as follows: (1) 10% shall be paid monthly to the Municipal Court of the City of Gonzales (which currently does not exist); (2) 2% must be paid monthly to the district marshal’s department (not sure who/what this is); (3) 10% is paid monthly to the general fund of the town of Gonzales; (4) The balance shall be paid monthly to the Gonzales City Police Department, to be used solely for law enforcement pay and law enforcement equipment.
If, indeed, Electronic Traffic Enforcement, i.e. traffic cameras, are limited to school zones, citizen-motorists in Gonzales probably won’t shout too vehemently. But none of these assurances are contained in the body of this six-page text. Additionally, if an out-of-state provider is responsible for issuing tickets through the US Postal Service, officer discretion is entirely eliminated from the equation.
This last point was made by one of Gonzales PD’s most familiar traffic patrollers, now-retired Stephen Ussery, who has announced his intention to succeed Sherman Jackson in 2024. Noting that certain offenses for speeding expose the motorist allegedly at fault to an arrest, Ussery expressed his opposition. to “completely eliminate the presence of an officer”.
“It’s also common to allow the officer to issue warnings instead of a citation, especially when the driver is driving a few miles an hour over the limit,” he said. . “These orders, applied by a laser, remove discretion from this officer. Mixing criminal enforcement, which is trafficking, with purely civil enforcement of fines could also be problematic.
Automated stationary speed control (ASE) and manned photo laser (MPL) systems would be implemented by Proposed Order 19-76 which makes “the owner of a vehicle…responsible and subject to penalty for civil violation as listed (below) when and if the vehicle is traveling faster than the speed limit in miles per hour.
- 1-10 MPH over the limit – $130.00 fine ($188.00 in a school zone)
- 11-20 MPH over the limit – $140.00 fine ($212.00 in a school zone)
- 21-30 MPH over the limit – $160.00 fine ($237.00 in a school zone)
- 31 MPH and over over the limit – $190.00 ($267.00 in a school zone)
Which begs the question; if the sole purpose of the ordinance scheme is to deter speeding in school zones, why does it include out-of-school-zone traffic fines?
A superficial inspection of the outline plan revealed numerous holes to be filled, faults to be ironed out. It is the same for