School zone enforcement cameras coming to Southampton Parkway

Published 9:06 am Wednesday, March 27, 2024

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Southampton County Sheriff Josh A. Wyche Sr. announced at the county Board of Supervisors February meeting that speed cameras will be installed in both school zones along Southampton Parkway. The move follows a study revealing a significant number of speed violations in those areas.

The school zones in the county along Southampton Parkway pertain to Southampton High School and Capron Elementary School.

“Due to the numbers of complaints of speeding in the school zones, I had reached out to Blue Line Solutions, who conducted a school zone study in the (U.S. Route) 58 corridor area for Southampton High School and Capron Elementary School,” Wyche said during the Feb. 27 board meeting.

In a letter addressed to the board, he noted that Blue Line Solutions had completed a study of those areas and would present information to the board showing that there are enough violations to justify the installation of cameras. He also noted that BLS would present information about the expected reduction in violations that the cameras will bring.

“Most importantly, the cameras and the service will be of no cost to the county,” Wyche wrote. “My office is ready to provide staffing to support the necessary review by law enforcement of the violation notices prior to the violations being issued.”

He stated that in the event there is a surplus in revenue generated by these cameras, he would request the money be used to fund an additional school resource officer position and a vehicle and equipment for that deputy.

Randy Campbell represented Blue Line Solutions at the February board meeting. He introduced himself as a retired sergeant with the Virginia State Police who currently works for BLS, covering the state of Virginia for photo speed enforcement.

“Everything that I’m going to share with you or any answers that I give to you is predicated upon the Code of Virginia,” he said, “specifically 46.2-882.1, which gives localities the autonomy and the authority to operate a photo speed enforcement program in their school zones.”

Southampton County Administrator Brian S. Thrower confirmed in a Tuesday, March 26, interview that with regard to the cameras, there were no approvals needed by the local governing body that he was aware of.


During the February meeting, Campbell noted that for the Capron Elementary School zone, the BLS study tracked nearly 3,000 violations in a 5-day period.

“And those violations are 11 miles an hour or greater over the posted speed,” he said. “So when I travel around the state, I always explain to people (that) you already are getting a 10 mph speed tolerance, which I’ll tell you from a state police perspective is extremely gracious.”


Central District Supervisor and Board Chair Dr. Alan W. Edwards said, “What exactly happens? (Let’s say) Mr. Thrower comes through there speeding, gets his picture taken, what happens?”

Campbell explained the sequence of events that would occur if Thrower, as an example, sped through one of the two relevant school zones during a time in which the beacon lights were flashing.

“As he comes through and the single-beam LIDAR captures his speed, the rear of his vehicle and his registration plate is captured,” Campbell said. “That encrypted data is sent to Blue Line Solutions. All of that information is compiled and sent to the sheriff’s office, and they simply will look at the registration plate, they will look at the registered vehicle owner, which is Mr. Thrower. Let’s say the sheriff is the point of contact — he will approve that violation, send it back to Blue Line Solutions, we will send a hard-copy summons to Mr. Thrower, he can either pay that off, or he can come to court and plead not guilty.

“Now I will tell you something that I want you to be aware of that the General Assembly instituted that I really appreciate is (that) under the photo speed enforcement program, the fact that Mr. Thrower’s vehicle and his registration plate was captured at a certain speed, that is referred to as prima facie evidence, and what that means is that the burden is on Mr. Thrower to come in and prove that he’s not guilty,” Campbell said. “It’s not on the sheriff’s office or the county to prove that.”


Southwest District Supervisor Lynda T. Updike said, “How much is the fine?”

Campbell noted that per the General Assembly, the fine for speeding that is caught by the speed cameras is $100.

“It is a civil penalty,” he said. “It does not go against anyone’s driver’s points or their insurance.”

Edwards later asked what the fine would be for a second violation. “The fine’s the same?” he asked.

“There is no enhanced penalty,” Campbell replied. “I know that the General Assembly is looking at that because of the repeat offenders or the frequent fliers in certain places, but yes.”


Campbell said, “The way that Blue Line Solutions operates is that every single violation that we process we send to Southampton County. Every fine that is paid, $75 of that fine comes back to Southampton County.”

He indicated that BLS takes $25 to help cover the costs related to all of the processing and infrastructure.

“We do everything for the county,” he said. “There is zero cost to Southampton County, and our CEO is very adamant in our explanation that you will never receive an invoice or a bill of any type from Blue Line Solutions. So what that means is, if you get 100% compliance (from motorists), which will never occur in any jurisdiction, but if there is no non-compliant revenue coming into Southampton, you’ll never get billed for any type of invoice for infrastructure or anything we’ve given to you.”


Returning to Edwards’ theoretical speeding scenario involving Thrower, Southwest District Supervisor Carl J. Faison said, “Suppose I’m the person driving Mr. Thrower’s vehicle.”

“Good question,” Campbell replied. “So the General Assembly has set up a caveat in the code section. Let’s say I’m driving Brian’s vehicle, and he gets a summons in the mail. He can simply reach out to the Southampton County clerk’s office, fill a simple affidavit out saying that he was not driving, but the level of accountability that the General Assembly has instituted requires Brian to give them my name and my physical address. Otherwise everybody would say, ‘I wasn’t driving,’ and nobody would be held accountable.”


There had been significant discussion during the Feb. 27 Board of Supervisors meeting about the U.S. Route 58/Storys Station Road intersection in Courtland due to some motorists running through the stoplight there. Among the solutions discussed was the possibility of putting a camera there.

Bringing up the part of the Code of Virginia that Campbell cited as allowing speed cameras in school zones, Northwest District Supervisor and Board Vice Chair William Hart Gillette said to Campbell, “Is that restricted only to schools, or can the other stoplight be piggybacked in?”

Campbell said, “As of right now, it’s only school zones and active work zones, so I will tell the board, if you have any work zones that are coming up in Southampton County, the sheriff’s office can also operate LIDAR in those.

“But there is a push in the General Assembly that one day you may see it on the primary and secondary roads in the commonwealth,” he added. “And as far as the red light camera, that is something that we can discuss that we can make available if the sheriff and the board wishes to go that route.”


Updike referenced the speed cameras installed in Suffolk, and Campbell noted that a different vendor — Altumint — is operating there.

He then emphasized the mission of BLS.

The No. 1 goal of these speed enforcement cameras is not to create revenue — it’s to change driver behavior, and that doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.

He provided an important example of changed driver behavior.

“I want you to remember back in the day when there was no law in Virginia for moving over when you see a trooper or a deputy or somebody on the shoulder,” he said. “I can tell you once upon a time if you were on a highway, the truck drivers would see how close they could get — some of them — to you to try to blow your hat off as the trailer comes by, and then the CB would light up, and everybody would laugh at the trooper trying to run down the shoulder and get his hat. But we know how many people have been killed.

“So think about the Move Over Law,” he continued. “I can travel around the state, and literally everywhere I go, 85 to 90% of the people, when they see that law enforcement, EMS amber lights, it’s like the whole crowd moves over. We didn’t get to that point by writing a bunch of tickets. We got to that point through public information and education.”

He repeated “public information and education” for emphasis and then applied it directly to the speed cameras coming to Southampton Parkway.

“It’s not a one-time check-the-box thing,” he said. “The sheriff and I talked about this earlier — this is something that Southampton County will be doing on a regular basis so that people know when they come through Southampton, don’t speed through the school zones or you get a ticket.”

In conclusion, Campbell said, “It’s not about generating revenue, although you will get noncompliant revenue. It’s about changing people’s driving behaviors — that’s the ultimate goal.”

In an email interview concerning the Automated Speed Enforcement program, Campbell said, “This type of program model highlights professional transparency and builds community trust.”


Maj. Camden Cobb, of the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office, said, “We anticipate the program will be active prior to the end of the current school year.”