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City of Des Moines Faces Lawsuit Over Traffic Cameras

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I-235 speed cameras. (WHO-HD)

I-235 speed cameras. (WHO-HD)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines has a new challenge to its red light and speed cameras and this time it isn’t coming from the Department of Transportation.

Des Moines has five red light cameras, one fixed speed camera, and two mobile speed cameras.

They help generate thousands of dollars for the city every year. Some of that money could end up in the hands of Sarah Brooks and Michelle Bullock.

According to the Des Moines Register the two Polk County residents are suing the city over the use of the cameras. They’re also seeking class-action status that would allow more plaintiffs to join the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the cameras violates a person’s constitutional right to travel because a driver’s license can be revoked if the fines are not paid.

The two also question the accuracy of the speed cameras saying they are not calibrated to any national standard. The lawsuit demands the cameras are shut down and any fines refunded.

Earlier this week the Iowa Department of Transportation also took action against several traffic cameras. The DOT wants Des Moines to remove its speed camera along I-235. The DOT says the camera hasn’t improved safety on the interstate as promised.

The city of Des Moines has 60 days to appeal the order.


  • Don

    I was open minded about the cameras at first, I don’t speed generally, and I do believe speed is a safety factor. But when I found out Windsor Heights was spearheading it, I knew what it was all about. Sorry Windsor Heights, you’ve earned a bad reputation, and you bring that reputation to anything you enlist into your speed traps (and no, I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket in Windsor Heights, or anyplace else in the Des Moines metro)

  • Spitfire

    If you are not breaking the law then it should not be a problem. These cameras not only catch speeders but other crimes committed. Ladies find something else to do with your time and money.

    • Kt

      They don’t “catch” anything. They snail mail you a ticket. A live person would actually stop the person & most likely they’d slow down.

    • Wenis Mcgeenus

      Ever hear of something called “due process”? There isn’t any here, that’s for sure… I know, I know, just as long as we go along with whatever rules the people in charge coerce us into, everything will be ok, right? But what if that law is a giant money grab, like it is here? The law doesn’t punish the driver speeding, it just fines the owner of the vehicle. I’m not calling you dumb, I just think we lose perspective sometimes when it comes to laws that are supposedly for our safety and I’ll never understand why anyone would argue in favor of the loss of freedom.

    • Steven Witmer

      The ticket is mailed to the owner of the vehicle, not the driver, and the ticket is mailed. That’s punishing someone for a law they did not break. If you let a friend borrow a coat and he then went to the store and shoplifted, would you want to be charged with shoplifting because he was wearing your coat at the time? Spitfire, what other crimes do these cameras “catch” exactly?

  • Dan

    As the people understand and study what these cameras are all about, they will rise up and stand against them. Vet your elected officials and city councils. Get them on the record and vote them out if they support them.

  • Mark Klein

    Loosely interpreted guidelines show that they are revenuers at best. Thieves are the more common result.

  • John Smith

    This is almost always the result of a government entity that chooses to privatize law enforcement: A for-profit industry springs up to cash in, and string out a government that quickly becomes addicted to the revenue. The actual enforcement of the law becomes a secondary “goal” almost instantly.

    I wonder how the PD’s position would change on these cameras if they had to give up one patrol officer for every camera in use? How would the city government feel about that? It only seems appropriate when the city is using the for-profit cameras IN PLACE OF police personnel anyway.

  • Your neighbor

    Everybody knows that every government body is broke from over spending for what ever reason you chose from.
    I know one Polk country sheriff employee went to swat school 2 years before retiring so his pension would rise by 35,000 dollars per year. Bottom line is we are getting fleeced by our neighbors.

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