Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Baltimore Camera Program Shut Down After New Errors

The City of Baltimore has temporarily shut down its speed and red light camera programs after erroneous citations were reported by one of its newly installed speed cameras.

The Baltimore Sun has reported that a recently installed camera located on the 3900 block of The Alameda had incorrectly cited drivers for speeding in a 25 mph zone when in fact the posted speed limit in that location is 30mph. After city officials received inquiries from The Sun, they stated that the city would be temporarily halting all speed and red-light camera tickets "due to complications that arose during the transition to our new vendor."

One motorist had received two such erroneous citations four days apart, clearly showing the camera had been incorrectly configured for some time.  The Sun reports that 590 of the erroneous citations had been wrongly issued by this camera before anyone noticed.


Baltimore City had just signed a new contract with speed camera contractor Brekford Corp, which pays the company a fee for each citation issued (a type of arrangement which Governor O'Malley stated last year violates the intent of state law).  Baltimore also just agreed to pay Brekford over $2.2 million to replace faulty speed cameras previously run by speed camera Xerox Corp, after those cameras were found to have been systematically issuing erroneous citations due to inaccurate speed readings, which even included giving tickets to motionless vehicles.

The new errors were discovered only days after the General Assembly failed to pass legislation reforming the state's speed camera law.  A reform bill which had already been substantially weakened was unable to come to a vote in the Senate on the final day of the session after being completely rewritten by a House committee days earlier.  Among the watered down bill's provisions was a "ban" on per ticket contracts, which included a clause that would have grandfathered in existing "bounty system" contracts including Baltimore's contract with Brekford Corp, and provided a new loophole which would have allowed other types of contracts paying by ticket volume to continue.  Provisions intended to help ensure the accuracy and verifiability of equipment had already been stripped from the bill after local governments intensely lobbied at taxpayer expense to have these provisions removed.

This is not the first time Baltimore City speed cameras were found to be configured to the wrong speed limit.  Three similar incidents were discovered by WBFF news in 2010 and in 2012, resulting in thousands of erroneous tickets.

Additional Coverage:
CBS Baltimore
Fox Baltimore