By Chris Mellides
Suffolk County is putting the brakes on its speed camera project.
County Executive Steve Bellone announced at a press conference Monday that he would terminate the county’s school speed camera program amid strong opposition of the plan’s rollout from county legislators.
The program called for the installation of speed cameras in a number of school zones across Suffolk County, which while being in the interest of public safety, would have
admittedly generated additional revenue for the county, officials said.
Supporters of the program on Long Island sought and received approval for its implementation from New York State following the state approval for a rollout in New York City earlier this year.
In Nassau, officials said the program’s initial implementation in July was problematic and resulted in the dismissal of thousands of citations by County Executive Ed Mangano, who admitted to there being faults in
Having analyzed the negative experiences endured by Nassau County, and finding bitter disapproval from local residents over the possibility of a school speed zone camera rollout in Suffolk, Bellone admitted to there being further impediments to the program’s implementation.
“We looked at what was happening and what we saw is similar to what’s been happening in Nassau County [where] you’ve seen a lot of issues with implementation,” Bellone said. “A lot of the programs [are] having problems, in terms of accuracy, and a lot of the programs [are] actually being rolled back in certain jurisdictions.”
Bellone continued by stating that in working through the different issues associated with installing speed cameras here in Suffolk, the job has proven to be “complex,” and “not easy to do.”
Coinciding with Bellone’s announcement on Monday, five Suffolk County legislators including Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory filed for legislation that would halt the county’s move to install school speed
“The more we saw the problems Nassau County has had with its school speed zone cameras it became obvious we were not going to install the cameras in Suffolk County,” Gregory said. “It is unclear if the safety improvements for our children would occur if we installed the cameras, and without clear evidence that they would improve safety we are not going to proceed.”
Of the three Suffolk lawmakers who voted against the original speed camera legislation, Legislator Robert Trotta has been firm and unflinching in his opposition.
“As I have said from the start and when I voted against this legislation, speed zone cameras are nothing more than a money grab,” Trotta said. “When the county executive gets caught trying to put his hands in the taxpayer’s pocket, there is little choice but to pull the plug.
“This is no different from the overwhelming majority of red light tickets, which is simply taxation by citation,” he continued.
Feeling confident in his decision to kill the anticipated speed camera program in Suffolk County, Bellone maintains that the entire process leading to this week’s announcement had been a bipartisan initiative from the very beginning.
“I consulted with legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle and we came to this decision jointly as what makes sense for Suffolk County,” Bellone said. “And that’s why I made the decision to, at the end of the day, terminate the speed camera program.”
Determined to keep moving forward, Bellone also said that there’s still a lot that the county can do to enhance school zone safety and is willing to explore other alternatives.
“It can be anything from additional signage, increased enforcement, education, different types of partnerships like that and that’ll be unfolding over the next several months,” he said.