By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Commissioners move to control RedSpeed ticket money
traffic light

Liberty County commissioners took another step toward controlling proceeds from the sheriff ’s office RedSpeed cameras.

Commissioners approved at their July 2 meeting a memorandum of understanding with the Liberty County Sheriff ’s Office that the money in speeding tickets generated from the RedSpeed cameras now will be under the county’s control and not the sheriff ’s office. Commissioners approved the MOU after a lengthy executive session in a 5-2 vote. Commissioners Marion Stevens and Justin Frasier voted against approving the agreement.

The commissioners also have requested an audit be conducted of the RedSpeed funds and expenditures. Those audit results could be turned over to the commissioners in a couple of weeks.

“I’ve always been in favor of a MOU,” Commissioner Gary Gilliard said. “But we’re still going to wait and receive the findings of a compliance audit. I said that was something we needed and something we needed from the start.”

Commissioners tabled the MOU when it was presented initially in April. Commissioners voted, with Frasier abstaining and Stevens not taking part in the vote, in May to conduct an audit of the RedSpeed camera funds. Frasier abstained because he said there was no price set for the audit.

Frasier asked at the July 2 meeting if the commissioners could get a recommendation from the Association of the County Commissioners of Georgia and the National Association of Counties on the matter, in an effort to have a more uniform agreement.

“Different counties have been doing it differently,” he said. “I just want to make sure we have more clarity on this law. The interpretation is pretty vast.”

County attorney Kelly Davis advised commissioners that there is little uniformity across the state when it comes to the school zone cameras, the money generated from speeding tickets created and to whom that money goes.

“What you have before you is the best path forward for all parties,” he said.

Liberty County Sheriff Will Bowman said at this year’s communitywide mid-year retreat that accidents in school zones had decreased by 93% since the inception of the cameras.

“We have 603 square miles to patrol and six deputies. We had to have innovative ways to try to slow traffic down,” he said back in March. “So I did that to try combat some of the things going on.”

During the April presentation on the MOU, Davis said the agreement was designed to address the concerns the board had expressed. Under the agreement, the sheriff will make a requisition for the funds, just like any other office.

With the MOU, the expenses from the sheriff’s office can request from the camera fund are for typical law enforcement spending, such as vehicles or training. Soft costs, such as community outreach, are not eligible under the agreement, Davis told commissioners in April. Davis also said then he was not aware of any questionable expenditures by the sheriff’s office from the cameras’ tickets proceeds.

A list of purchases from May 2022 to April of this year submitted to the commissioners detailed how the camera money was spent, including weapons, badges, vehicles, bullet proof vests, computers, voice-activated recorders, travel for training and items used as part of the sheriff’s office’s CHAMPS program, among other expenditures. The total comes to more than $819,000 for the 23 months of expenses reported.

While it has not been considered a traditional county account, going forward it will be subject to audit, just like other county accounts, according to Davis.

Some commissioners raised eyebrows at the sheriff’s office’s use of the funds after the donation of $20,000 to the Bradwell Institute band to pay for its expenses after it was invited to play in a July 4th event in the nation’s capital.

Sign up for our e-newsletters