Dubuque city manager pushes to add speed cameras to offset police dept. staffing issues

Dubuque City Council members will discuss installing more cameras to its network to try and slow down traffic.
Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 11:54 AM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Dubuque City Manager Michael Van Milligen is asking the mayor and the city council to approve the implementation of automated speed cameras in the city to help the police department with traffic enforcement amid ongoing staffing issues.

In a letter to the city council on Thursday, the city manager said speed enforcement is a frequent request of the city’s police department as a way to reduce the number of crashes and reduce the severity of crashes when they happen.

“In 2022, the Dubuque Police Department investigated 1510 motor vehicle crashes,” Milligen wrote in the letter. “Six of those crashes were fatal car crashes (a 10 year high). Excessive speed was a contributing factor in almost all of these crashes.”

Statistics from the Iowa State Patrol also show an exponential increase in speed citations of more than 100 mph over the last three years.

There are currently 13 officer vacancies within the Dubuque Police Department, and Milligen says the staffing issues are causing traffic enforcement to take a back seat as police prioritize service calls.

The automated speed cameras the city manager would like added across the city of Dubuque have become common in Iowa, with cities like Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Waterloo and Davenport all adopting them.

Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman endorsed the system, saying it has had a positive effect in terms of reducing crashes.

But Milligen also acknowledged the speed cameras aren’t popular with some people. However, he says the citations from speed cameras are civil citations that don’t count against the driver’s record, because the goal is to change the driver’s behavior rather than suspend the driver for not paying fines.

The benefit of adding the speed cameras, Milligen says, is that they will help offset the police department’s staffing issues while increasing safety on roadways.

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