Opposite of what Florida police chief expected: Speed cameras issue 1,300 tickets in 5 weeks

Opposite of what Florida police chief expected: Speed cameras issue 1,300 tickets in 5 weeks

EUSTIS, Fla. – The chief of police in Eustis, the first-ever city in Florida to install speed cameras in a school zone and send out tickets, got a surprise after activating the cameras on April 3.

Eustis Police Chief Craig Capri first installed the cameras in front of Eustis Elementary School on Feb. 21 because speeding was so bad he worried for students’ safety.

Capri said some drivers were tearing through the school zone at 80 miles per hour.

At first, the cameras only issued warnings. After reviewing the cars caught on camera speeding, the police department mailed out 800 warnings in about five weeks.

Now the cameras have been active and issuing $100 tickets for almost two months.

Capri expected drivers would have gotten the message from the warnings or heard the news that the cameras would be activated resulting in tickets.

But drivers did not stop speeding.

News 6 Anchor Erik von Ancken stood with Capri in full uniform on the sidewalk in front of Eustis Elementary, next to the cameras and directly under the yellow school zone sign.

Capri pointed out driver after driver speeding through the 40 mph school zone.

Capri said in the five weeks after the cameras were activated for tickets, the police department mailed out 1,300 citations. And those include several hundred questionable tickets that were voided because the department “gives the driver the benefit of the doubt,” according to Capri.

Capri said he was blown away.

“I didn’t think it would be that high honestly,” Capri said. “I figured the warning would have sent the message. Hopefully, the warning would have curtailed that behavior. Evidently, the warning didn’t do the job. I think once we hit the wallet, the pocketbook, you’ll realize $100 is a lot of money.”

Capri said even Eustis City staff members have received tickets.

“And let me tell you some of my cops have had tickets, city crews have had tickets, elected officials have had tickets,” Capri said. “They all got to pay.”

One driver was cited five times in two days.

“Sounds like a guy that doesn’t know what’s going on and that’s a problem,” Capri said.

Capri said his “biggest fear” is a child getting hurt by a speeding driver.

Capri said the tickets were not his first choice but he had to address the speeding problem in the school zone, as confirmed by a speed study. Capri said, “It’s not about the money.”

Yet, Eustis suddenly finds itself receiving revenue it never expected. Capri said all of the revenue will go towards public safety, like hiring much-needed crossing guards, installing more signage and adding speed cameras in two other school zones by the start of the next school year – one at another elementary school and another at the Eustis High School 9th grade center.

Capri noted every potential ticket is reviewed by staff and they always err on the side of the driver if there’s a question. The driver who was caught on camera speeding five times in two days ended up getting only one ticket.

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