Md. Police Assoc. Pumps Bill to Facilitate Automated Speed Enforcement

Are Speed Enforcement Systems Being Promoted for Public Safety or Corporate Profits?

COLUMBIA, Md. (Feb. 20, 2008) – The Maryland Chiefs of Police Association (MCPA) passed a resolution supporting automated speed enforcement at their executive committee meeting on Saturday, Jan. 16. Yesterday, the association sent a letter to lawmakers in Annapolis urging them to support a bill expanding the use of automated speed enforcement technologies.

Senate Bill 269, recently introduced by the Maryland Department of Transportation, would grant authority to local municipalities to install speed cameras.

“The Maryland Chiefs of Police Association (MCPA) and its member departments are committed to traffic safety and committed to utilizing new technologies to reduce the number of roadway deaths and injuries in Maryland,” said Westminster Police Chief and current MCPA President, Jeffrey Spaulding. “Our law enforcement agencies are already responding to increased post – 9/11 responsibilities and automated speed enforcement will allow us to complement those efforts.”

Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) utilizes cameras to document a vehicular speed violation. A vehicle passing one of the camera locations above the determined threshold speed is subjected to a series of photographs to document the violation. The photographs are then processed and the license plate is reviewed to identify the registered owner. The owner is sent the citation, which includes copies of the violation photos and the marked vehicle speed.

Montgomery County has been using speed cameras near schools and in residential areas since early 2007, and has issued 210,000 citations. The county is currently collecting data to determine if speeds in general have been reduced as a result of installing the cameras in 15 locations. According to Montgomery County Police, results should be available later this year.

The systems in Montgomery County were provided under contract by Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (ACS) of Dallas. ACS also provided systems that are in use in Baltimore.

According to a press released issued by the company dated Dec. 13, 2007: "Under the contract, ACS processes violations; generates and mails notices; schedules adjudication and appeals appointments; provides document imaging and correspondence management; provides walk-in customer service; maintains camera equipment; and provides pay-by-web, pay-by-phone, and integrated voice response systems."

ACS and two other companies (Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc. and GATSO USA) have gone as far as sponsoring the National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running in order to promote ASE and advise police and lawmakers on how to implement the systems in their jurisdictions.

In previous years, ASE systems have come under fire because of contracts that allow the vendors to share in the revenue generated by the systems. However, SB 269 specifically addresses the issue, saying: "the fees of certain contractors may not be contingent on the number of citations issued or paid under this Act."

The 2006 data from the Maryland Automated Accident Reporting System (MAARS) indicate that 18,700 (18%) of 102,000 police reported crashes were speed related. Of this total, 182 of 593 (31%) fatal crashes were speed related.

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