Traffic cameras spark heated debate

NEW ROADS — Pointe Coupee Parish Police Juror Justin Cox called Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office officials Wednesday night “misinformed” during heated debate over a proposed speed enforcement program.

During a meeting of the jury’s Finance Committee, Cox pitched a plan to reduce speeding in the parish through the use of video cameras that would photograph violators so tickets could be issued to them. The city of Baker and Livingston Parish have such systems, officials said.

“The people that are fighting this are mad because they would no longer be able to fix tickets,” Cox said in response to Jury President Melanie Bueche’s criticism of his proposal.

Cox told jurors that installing video cameras along Pointe Coupee traffic corridors prone to speed-related accidents could help reduce crashes by as much as 75 percent.

“The whole point of this is to get people to slow down,” he said.

Cox claimed Baker saw a 13 percent reduction in speeding when the city’s Police Department started using video cameras.

Cox said his proposal calls for the program to be managed by a third-party company that would issue speeding citations through the mail and collect revenues.

A portion of the revenue generated could be used to fund equipment purchases and upgrades for the parish’s 911 call center and the parish Office of Emergency Preparedness, Cox said.

Bueche said she didn’t like the idea because she felt it was nothing more than a speed-trap operation.

“And I think people will look at it as a cash cow for the Police Jury,” she added.

Bueche told Cox she talked to Sheriff Bud Torres and District Attorney Ricky Ward about the program and found that both men were vehemently against it.

Bueche said Ward told her he knew “the Police Jury had better sense than to do this,” and Torres told her felt it was a law enforcement issue, not a Police Jury matter.

Bueche also said former Livingston Parish Sheriff Willie Graves told her the program was “far more trouble” than it was worth in his parish.

“How can you argue a 75 percent crash reduction?” Cox replied.

Juror Kurt Jarreau said he had “mixed emotions” about the proposal but said he could possibly support it if Cox could produce data regarding speed-related traffic accidents in the parish.

Before the meeting adjourned, Cox said he intended to “press forward” and hopes to submit the proposal to the full jury for consideration in the near future.