Zoom! Sioux City and South Dakota battle over speed cameras


By Paul Brennan | Iowa Watchdog

DES MOINES, Iowa — Sioux City’s Interstate 29 mobile speed cameras, which pumped $4.5 million into the city’s general operating budget last year, have just become less profitable.

Neighboring South Dakota will no longer provide Iowa or any other state with information that could be used “to impose or collect a civil fine that results from an alleged violation captured by a red light camera or speed camera.”

Although the law passed last week doesn’t mention them, Sioux City’s two interstate speed cameras inspired this change. People fined because of the cameras weren’t being treated fairly by Sioux City, according to South Dakota state Sen. Dan Lederer.

Lederer said residents of both South Dakota and Sioux City are fans of the new law.

UNFAIR BUT PROFITABLE: Sioux City’s I-29 speed cameras earned the city $4.4 million last year, but according to a South Dakota State Senator are unfair. A new law in South Dakota inspired by Sioux City’s cameras prevents the state from helping any other state collect fines from violations caught by traffic cameras.

“People are just fed up with these cameras,” Lederer said. “They place them between downtown Sioux City and the South Dakota border. More than 30,000 cars go back and forth through there every day.”

To collect fines, law enforcement officers identify the car by the vehicle’s license plate number. Under the new law, South Dakota will no longer grant access to that information.

“The way the city ordinance is written, it robs the defendant of the right to a fair trial,” Lederer, R-Dakota Dunes, told Iowa Watchdog. “Because it’s not about whoever was driving the car. The fine is imposed on whoever owns the vehicle instead.”

Lederer said the law is quite unpopular with the Sioux City mayor and police chief.

Sioux City Police Chief Dave Young has called the new law “a slap in the face of interstate cooperation between law enforcement agencies.”

“No comment,” was Mayor Bob Scott’s response when contacted by Iowa Watchdog about the new law.

Asked what effect this will have on Sioux City’s enforcement of its traffic laws, Lt. Mark Kilpatrick, media relations officer for the Sioux City Police Department, told Iowa Watchdog, “The department is currently reviewing its options in order to decide how we are going to proceed now.”

“They’re just worried losing revenue,” Lederer said.

Contact Paul Brennan at pbrennan@watchdog.org