MT. CARMEL, TN (WJHL) – Soon, officers in Mt. Carmel will be patrolling a 2-mile stretch of 11w that is currently being monitored by speed cameras.
The contract for the cameras is set to expire next month and state law says it cannot be renewed.
Lou Buckley lives in Church Hill, but he drives through Mt. Carmel daily, right past the speed cameras.
He said he’s received a few tickets over the years. “As a matter of fact I did, right in Mt. Carmel,” Buckley said.
But Mt. Carmel Police Chief Jeff Jackson says the cameras will soon be a thing of the past.
“They’re due to be deactivated the end of March,” Chief Jackson said.
The cameras were put in place in 2008 because of the high number of crashes and fatalities on the 2-mile stretch of roadway.
“It averaged to 60-70 accidents per year. The first year we put the cameras in, it dropped to 12 accidents,” he said.
He said the cameras over the years have also allowed officers to patrol other areas of the city.
“It freed our officers up to be out in the subdivisions which in turn reduced our crime rate all over the city,” said Chief Jackson.
He says now that the cameras will be deactivated, officers will have to go back to focusing on enforcing the speed limit in that area.
But right now, the number of officers working for Mt. Carmel police is at an all-time low.
“We just started taking steps to increase the members of our department,” he said.
After the cameras are deactivated, Chief Jackson is hoping to keep them in place.
He says the cameras are helpful when it comes to solving crimes.
One example is the search for Gary Simpson, after police say he kidnapped a young girl from school last year, sparking a nationwide manhunt.
“From looking at the video we were able to rule out that the van that picked her up came through our city on 11w and that made it easier for the resources that the other agencies had to concentrate on other areas,” Chief Jackson explained.
He also is weighing the option of having officers use handheld speed cameras. But right now, the Town Attorney is seeking the Attorney General’s opinion about the legality of using them.
But until then, Chief Jackson is hoping for the best case scenario.
“Everybody would drive the speed limit and pay attention to what their surroundings are and then there would be no need for speed enforcement photo or officer either one.”
Red light cameras are not being impacted by this law, so they will remain operational.
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