Saturday, September 14, 2013

MDA obtains speed camera proposals from Salisbury

After more than a month of stonewalling by Mayor James Ireton of Salisbury, the Maryland Drivers Alliance has obtained a copy of the Brekford speed camera contract from an entirely different source who respects the Maryland Public Information Act.   In addition, we obtained speed camera proposals that were submitted to Salisbury by several other vendors.

The proposals provide a great deal of information about the speed camera systems that might prove useful in defending speed camera citations.

The bid comparison sheet (speed camera ranking matrix), the contract, and the proposals can be viewed by clicking on the links below.

Salisbury Speed Camera Ranking Matrix

Brekford Speed Camera contract

Brekford Speed Camera proposal (accepted by Salisbury)

Redspeed speed camera proposal

Redflex speed camera proposal

Gatso speed camera proposal

Optotraffic speed camera proposal Part 1 of 2

Optotraffic speed camera proposal Part 2 of 2



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Salisbury planning to use speed camera revenue to purchase Tasers

Documents obtained by the Maryland Drivers Alliance reveal that the City of Salisbury is planning to use speed camera revenue to pay for Taser guns.

At present, Salisbury police officers do not carry Taser guns.

The claimed goal of the speed cameras program is to improve traffic safety.  The City of Salisbury has not explained how using speed camera revenue to equip police officers with Taser guns will improve traffic safety.



Seeking Salisbury/Morningside Citations

We are looking for people who have "active" (ie unpaid) speed camera citations from either the City of Salisbury or the Town of Morningside.  Please contact us by email if you have a citation from either jurisdiction which is not yet paid.

Salisbury Resident Complains of Camera Ticket "Spikes"

A Wicomico County resident wrote a letter to the editor at Delmarvanow.com, complaining about the reliability of cameras used in the county:
"In August 2012, I had problems with Pemberton Drive cameras, as many other also did. I called the Sheriff’s Office many times, and was told the cameras were checked daily and are accurate. I told them I use cruise control set below 35 mph.
Again, no satisfaction. Then on Oct. 4, 2012, The Daily Times reported that Sheriff Mike Lewis and Chief Deputy Gary Baker had concerns about a spike in citations the week of Aug. 20-24, 2012; 175 citations were issued. They had decided to issue refunds for those days.
How about Sept. 3-7, 2012, when 110 citations were issued, and Sept. 10-14, 2012, when 172 citations were issued?
I have lived off Pemberton Drive almost 50 years with no problems. Then, during three spike periods, I receive four citations."
 
 Marion F. Parsons Jr., Salisbury

Read the complete letter to the editor at DelmarvaNow.com.

A reference to the refunds and Wicomico County's 2012 alleged spike in violations can be found in this article at www.ocean-city.com:
Last November Sheriff Mike Lewis reported to the council a sudden rush of violations caused his office to question if one camera might have been malfunctioning.
The peak occurred during the week of Aug. 20-24 near Pemberton Elementary School. Though the camera was checked and no obvious problems were discovered, the Sheriff’s Office made the decision to refund all citations issued by that camera for the week the peak occurred just to eliminate all doubt. 
[...]
Councilman Joe Holloway stated Red Speed has captured drivers going 70 to 80 mph in neighborhoods that following a review Sheriff Mike Lewis and County Attorney Edgar Baker have found to be impossible to drive that fast in those areas.
“That is what’s wrong with this system, it is flawed, and I am sorry that I voted for it,” Joe Holloway said.

If you get a bogus ticket SAY SOMETHING.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Morningside Deployed Cameras Despite County Denial

Documents provided to the Maryland Drivers Alliance show that The Town of Morningside deployed speed cameras on a road maintained by Prince George's County without having received authorization from the county, and despite the county's explicit denial of permission for the town to do so.

The town wrote Prince George's County a letter on July 25, stating that they had created new school zones for the purpose of deploying speed cameras, including in locations on county roads, and that they were "notifying" the county of their intent to deploy the cameras on county roads.

The county responded with a letter dated Sept 23, 2011:
"I am in receipt of your July 25, 2011 letter in which you requested permission to install speed monitoring devices on Suitland Road between Allentown Road and Suitland Parkway." wrote Dr Haitham Hijaz, Director of Prince George's County DPWT "We certainly applaud the Town of Morningside's concern for pedestrian and bicycle safety; however permission to install the speed monitoring devices along this roadway cannot be approved.  Prince George's County is in the process of implementing our County-wide Automated Speed Enforcement Program, which includes certified school zones sites located on County-maintained arterial and collector roadways. As such, Suitland Road is an identified site and is included in the County's Program for placement of speed monitoring systems. "

The county then went on to describe the requirements which the town should follow, such as performing a traffic study, if it nevertheless wished to try to obtain a permit to deploy cameras on a county road.

On October 15, Morningside Police Chief Mills (who is no longer with the department) wrote a defiant reply.  Mills claimed the county did not respond to their request within 60 days, and that the county did not show any statutory basis for denying the request. The letter stated that the town had already contracted with Brekford, a company which Morningside claims has "previously received acceptance by the State Highway Administration for it's speed monitoring systems" (The SHA does not certify speed cameras nor does it use speed cameras provided by Brekford.)

Morningside currently deploys speed cameras on Suitland road, a county road, despite never having received any formal authorization from the town.  It is unclear whether the town even has authority to designate a school zone on a county road which does not directly border the school, or to place the required signs without the county DPWT's consent.

If cameras are deployed by the county, rather than by a town government, then all revenues would go to the county treasury rather than the municipality. In 2010 the legislature wrote a specific provision into the law establishing a procedure by which Prince George's County, and only Prince George's County, would determine whether the county or the municipality had jurisdiction to deploy cameras in a particular location.

Morningside and Brekford Corp collected a total of $612,647 worth of speed camera fines between July 1 2011 and June 30 2012, compared to total revenues of $2.2million from all sources, according to records from the comptroller's office (the town's SMS-1 form was dated March 25, 2013, despite a statement on the comptroller's website that the form "is due on the 30th day of September following the fiscal year in which the Speed Monitoring Fines were collected"). The town budgeted in 2012 to use camera revenue to replace falling property tax revenues, and one councilwoman even boasted during her campaign that "I love the speed cameras [installed last year] and the great opportunities their revenue provide to do things for the community.

The Maryland Drivers Alliance has been closely examining the town's speed camera program after they failed to respond to a Maryland Public Information Act request for speed camera calibration records within the 30 day time period required by state law.  When the town eventually responded, they denied the request for calibration records.