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Mobtown Beat

Speed-Camera Program Under Review

Task force to evaluate city's camera enforcement systems

Prompted by burgeoning speed-camera revenue and potential backlash by citizens, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a “Task Force” to review and study the privatized “Automated Traffic Violation Enforcement System.”

The eight-member task force, with members from state, city, and county government, police, and private groups, “will evaluate the city’s automated red light and speed camera enforcement systems to assure that these programs continue to effectively promote traffic and pedestrian safety, especially near school zones,” the mayor said in a press release.

She cited a “recent citizen survey” in which city residents supposedly ranked “disobeying traffic laws” a more serious problem than “property crime, panhandling, and graffiti” (which somehow made the list separate from other property crime).

Speed-camera revenue has long exceeded estimates. In this year’s budget the cameras brought in about $13 million more than projected, while red-light and right-turn cameras reaped $4.5 million more than projected (“Speed Bump,” Mobtown Beat, June 27). New revenue numbers reported by The Sun last week indicate the speed-camera bonanza has continued as the city added cameras. It now has 83 speed cameras, eight of which are mobile, and 83 red-light cameras.

Problems with the system’s administration have been reported for years. In 2010 WBAL found thousands of speed camera citations “sworn and attested” to by a deceased police officer. Camera miscalibrations, lack of required warning signage, and other glitches have also plagued the system, according to a watchdog web site.

The task force will review “camera locations, citation accuracy rates, and program management and performance,” according to the press release, while also examining “data trends to ensure that the systems are designed to help reduce speeds and improve safety, and that enforcement is equitably distributed among resident and nonresident motorists.”

The task force members are Cedric Ward, director, Office of Traffic and Safety, Maryland State Highway Administration; Marshall “Toby” Goodwin, director of police, Baltimore City Public Schools; Ragina C. Averella, director of public affairs, AAA Mid-Atlantic; Milton Corbett, commander of traffic unit, Baltimore Police Department; Elena DiPietro, chief solicitor of opinions and legal advice, Baltimore City Law Department; Todd Lang, director of transportation, Baltimore Metropolitan Council; Tori Burns, board member, Ashburton Community Association; and Jamie Kendrick, deputy director for administration, Baltimore City Department of Transportation.

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