Tuesday, October 25, 2011

PG County Cameras Issue over $500,000 worth of tickets in first month

The Washington Examiner has reported that Prince George's County's 14 new camera sites have issued $527,000 (13,173 citations) in the first month of their program.  The article compares this to the early phases of Montgomery County's program, which issued 40,000 citations in the first six months.  The county plans to expand the program to a total of 72 sites, just for starters.

The revenue is divided between the county and the contractor, Optotraffic, who receives a 37% cut of every citation.  The per-ticket contract is despite a provision of state law which reads "If a contractor operates a speed monitoring system on behalf of a local jurisdiction, the contractor’s fee may not be contingent on the number of citations issued or paid.".  That provision which has been essentially nullified and is being ignored by almost every speed camera program in the state, simply by claiming that the contractor  (who maintains and substantially controls all the cameras) does not 'operate' the devices.  The first of many restrictions in the law to be circumvented, ignored, or otherwise rendered meaningless.

The county's camera vendor, Optotraffic, has been the target of criticism over claims of inaccuracies in their hardware as well as other issues.  The county claims that their cameras are calibrated regularly (using tests which this site has demonstrated to be meaningless and which were not diligently followed by local governments making the same claims), and that citations are all inspected by police.  However despite these claimed inspections in the first week the program went live the county's cameras erroneously issued citations on a weekend when the devices are legally required to be switched off, with a county spokesperson claiming they were 'improperly programmed by the vendor'.