Are the Speed Cameras a Black Mark for Cedar Rapids?

By Chris Earl, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Flood of 2008 brought volunteers and money to Cedar Rapids for recovery that still continues today.

Yet are these traffic cameras also leading to Cedar Rapids getting a bad name around the state and even the nation?

Through mid-October, the public report states the ticket revenue has grossed $1.59 million, with nearly $1 million earmarked for the police department.

Data analysis on the tickets through mid-October also shows only 42.4% of the violators are from Cedar Rapids, Marion or Hiawatha.

"The folks upset and mad they got a speeding ticket in Cedar Rapids probably weren't coming back anyway," said Swore when asked about the city's reputation.

On November 4, the Cedar Rapids Gazette published a pair of "letters to the editor" regarding the traffic cameras.

Bob Roy of Burlington wrote: "My contacts and I will tell as many people as possible of your city's arrogant scheme. I will tell them to 'boycott C.R.' when traveling through '$peed Trap City' (sic)."

Scheetz also said when people visiting Cedar Rapids catch a $75 ticket in the mail weeks after being in the city, that may be the lasting perception.

"The system discourages out-of-town people from coming to Cedar Rapids," said Scheetz. "If they obtain one of these two or three weeks later, they will say 'what the heck is this'?"

Chief Graham maintains the police department has gotten the word out before making the cameras "live". He also said each camera is clearly marked as drivers approach one.

"If we were patrolling with speed traps, actual speed traps where you drive over a hill and there are cops waiting for you on the other side, we'd have people complain about that, too," said Graham.

"Everybody knows where they are at."

Even businesses are popping up for the drivers who may not know where the cameras are.

Jason Siefken is based in Cedar Rapids and runs BeatTheCameras.com. He is trying to market a $99 GPS unit that will alert the driver as they are about to enter a location with a "live" traffic camera.

"It's designed to promote safe driving and provide additional security and alertness where you are distracted for other reasons," said Siefken.
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