Sheriff Wayne Anderson spoke up from the audience to make clear he would in no way support the use of speed cameras in the county.
“They’re speed traps,” Anderson said.
David Shepherd, Tennessee account manager for Maryland-based Optotraffic, suggested the county could use revenue generated by portable speed cameras — which could be set up in school zones — to fund school resource officers (SROs) for county schools.
According to information distributed by Shepherd: If a child is hit by a vehicle at 20 miles per hour (mph), there is a 5 percent chance it will be fatal, and that increases to 45 percent at 30 mph and to 85 percent at 40 mph. Also, according to Shepherd’s information, 15.1 percent of fatal crashes in Tennessee were caused by excessive speed, and in 2012 there were 7,064 speed-related crashes in the state.
Shepherd said Optotraffic would foot the bill for setup costs and not charge the county any monthly fee — and would not expect a multi-year contract, instead offering a commitment of as little as 60 or 90 days.
Shepherd said increased public safety, not revenue generation, is the primary goal of Optotraffic — which he said is the only company that offers a speed camera based on a portable platform.
That means it can be moved easily, allowing for enforcement in multiple zones with just one system.
“Speed-related fatalities will come down,” Shepherd said, also describing use of the cameras as a way to “re-educate” the community.
Nothing regarding speed cameras is officially being considered by the Sullivan County Commission.
Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie attended the commission meeting and said he would meet with Shepherd later. Yennie said he had not discussed the proposal with Shepherd before the meeting.
“He’s going to get on my calendar and I’ll take a look at it,” Yennie said Monday afternoon of the speed camera proposal. “I know nothing more than what he said this morning.”
Unless the speed cameras are placed in school zones, Yennie said they would be in the domain of Anderson, not the school system.
“Steve (Godsey) gave me the heads-up the guy was coming today,” Yennie said. “I would probably defer to the sheriff.”
Staff Writer Rick Wagner contributed to this report