Judge Caprio Expects Speed Camera Tickets to “Go Up” in Providence

Tuesday, March 06, 2018


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Judge Frank Caprio

Long-time Providence Municipal Court Judge Frank Caprio heard six straight hours of violators challenging the City of Providence’s new speed cameras on Monday, when it was estimated more than 1,000 attended hearings at Providence Municipal Court at the Providence Public Safety Complex.

"It was really busy, and I did expect them to come out today," said Caprio. "We sent out close to 2,000 summons, we got a pretty good response. We were there from 8 a.m. to quarter of 2. It broke a record for the time I sat on the bench."

Opponents to the revenue-raising traffic enforcement measure -- including community activist Anthony Sionni -- decried the new policy by the City of Providence. 

“Today I witnessed hundreds of people pouring into the Public Safety complex during the morning and evening hours, all with $95 speed camera tickets. Some people had multiple tickets," said  Sionni. "I accompanied a friend to court this morning and she had five tickets, she shares the vehicle with [her] parents. They are hard-working, have multiple jobs and the daughter attends college.  To think that they have to pay $475 in speeding tickets that they got in a short period of time is outrageous."

Caprio said that the large volume of ticket recipients appearing at court on Monday was due in large part to logistics.

"This was the first rollout of it," said Caprio, of the court hearings for the first set of cameras deployed at the end of January. "We planned on doing it three weeks ago, [but] we had a few Mondays there that were holidays."

"Many of the [arguments I heard] were that they said I never saw the signs, or saw the cameras -- neither of those is legally excusable,“ said Caprio."That was the most common, 'I didn't know they were putting the cameras out', or 'I didn't see the sign.' I said if they took photos of no signs, they could come back [and appeal]."

"There were some technical issues," said Caprio. "The original way the summons were written, they indicated the speed the person was going at, but not indicating what the speed limit was in bold print [in the required area of the summons]. You needed a microscope -- even I couldn't see it."

Some say the program is deeply flawed and that the implementation is improperly being executed, however. 

"One of the ticket notices wasn't mailed out until 10 days after the violation. The school speed limit sign says 20 mph from 6 am to 5 pm school days.  The time that the city can issue tickets from this camera is from 6 AM to 8 PM Monday through Saturday," said Sionni. "The city should have installed signs that stated that, but they didn’t! These fines are excessive and have added to the collective misery of already burdened Providence residents."

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Line out the door at the Providence Public Safety Complex

More Tickets Expected

Caprio explained his leniency in some cases on Monday, and what he expects to see moving forward. 

"I think 75% of [people who appeared in court] Monday paid, some had multiple [violations] that I cut down," said Caprio. 

When asked if he thought Monday was an aberration in terms of numbers, Caprio said he thought it was on the low end. 

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Line doubled up inside the the Public Safety Complex

"They're installing 6 more machines, so I expect the numbers to go up," said Caprio. "Everyone has to get vigilant. These cameras are placed in a quarter mile from a school zone, and that's practically all of Providence."

Despite protestations from violators on Monday, Caprio said he thinks the city has done its job in alerting residents as to the new cameras. 

"I think the city's done a decent job," said Caprio. "There's been a great deal of talk about them. People are creatures of habit, the most traveled street is Mt. Pleasant Ave. They do 35 past the high school and the speed limit is 20."

"I think with more awareness, people will realize what's happening. But based on the number of machines, the numbers will go up in total. I expect them to flatten out for individual streets though," said Caprio.

When asked if he thought the cameras were a good idea for the city's finances. 

"It's not my job to talk about revenue -- that's a job for the finance department," said Caprio. 

Protest Planned

Sionni is organizing a protest to be held before the City Council meeting on March 15, when City Councilwoman Sabina Matos plans to introduce a resolution calling for the delay in implementation of any new speed cameras until an "educational campaign" is implemented. 


Related Slideshow: Providence Speed Cameras Defaced.


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