Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond ready to move on from camera proposal

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond ready to move on from camera proposal

February 25th, 2014 by Alex Green in Local Regional News

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond speaks to the media in this file photo.

POLL: Should the sheriff's office use mobile traffic cameras?

The light detection and ranging - or LIDAR - cameras Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond wanted for his department are probably as good as gone, after public outcry has county commissioners saying they'll backtrack on the cameras' contract this week.

At Monday's Hamilton County Pachyderm Club meeting, Hammond touched on the outpouring of public opinion which followed the Hamilton County Commission's 5-4 approval of the cameras last week.

"A lot of folks have distanced themselves from me in the last week," he said.

Commissioner Larry Henry, who represents District 7, voted in favor of the cameras last week. He bemoaned that decision on Monday.

"I voted 'yes' last week," he said, "but if the good Lord lets me live until Wednesday, I'm going to change my vote."

Hammond took the renunciation of his proposal by officials and the public in stride, saying if the public hates the idea of the cameras, the sheriff's office will forget about the proposal.

"We will move on," he said.

After Monday's meeting, Hammond said last week's vehement opposition to the cameras caught him by surprise.

"I was surprised to see that people have such disdain for the cameras," he said, "because I didn't hear anyone talking about the danger of speeding."

He also said the consequences of being caught and cited for speeding by the cameras are lighter than being clocked by an officer and having the citation reflected on state driving records.

Compared to "the embarrassment of being pulled over," being cited probably costs at least $100 and facing a court date, Hammond. said A $50 civil penalty sent "right to your mailbox," no record of the citation and no court date seemed like a better alternative for drivers, he said.

"I think the biggest thing is [the public] felt like it was an intrusion of government," he said.

Hammond doesn't intend to fight for the measure come this week's County Commission meeting.

"I'm through with that one," he said. "We'll go back to what we were doing."

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.