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Buffalo Common Council to hear concerns about city's school zone camera program

The Common Council is inviting the public to voice concerns about Buffalo's new school speed zone camera enforcement program.

The Council is proposing an amendment to the program that would provide specific, uniform times when police can enforce a 15 mph speed limit near schools. Currently, the times differ from school to school, said University Council Member Rasheed N.C. Wyatt during the Council's regular business meeting Tuesday.

The proposal would establish that the 15 mph speed limit around schools would be enforced only from 7 to 9:30 a.m. and from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., eliminating the mid-day enforcement hours, Wyatt said. The speed limit would be 30 mph outside those 4½ hours.

"Because people are feeling that this is a money grab and this hopefully will give them the trust that this is really about the safety of the children and those arrival times and departure times are really the main focus," he said.

The Council's amendment will be discussed with public input next Tuesday at 1 p.m. during the Council's Legislation Committee meeting.

"We're inviting people to come out and talk about it because I want to hear from them," Wyatt said. "I've heard from them on (social media), but now they can come formally and put it on the record what those concerns are."

The city’s new school zone camera enforcement system started in January, at 14 school locations. Motorists who were caught on camera traveling 26 miles-per hour or more were issued warnings without fines. The month-long grace period ended last month, but the city decided to install flashing lights - or beacons – to provide an additional warning to drivers approaching a 15 mph school zone.

Once the beacons are installed, drivers who speed through the school zones will be sent violations with fines.

Cameras will be installed on utility poles outside no more than 20 school zone locations at any one time.

"I still think there's some things that we can find to make sure this process is something that the public respects and gets the focus back on ... the safety of our children," Wyatt said.

Council President Darius G. Pridgen said he met with Mayor Byron W. Brown earlier Tuesday and that the administration "is willing to listen."

"And the mayor did commit that before the city starts issuing tickets where there will be a fine, that he will notify Council members so we can help get the word out to our constituents," Pridgen said.

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