Baltimore leaders in dark over extent of bogus tickets
5:31 PM, Jan 23, 2014
5:38 AM, Jan 24, 2014
Like all of Baltimore's speed cameras, the one located in the 5400 block of Loch Raven Boulevard sits dormant for now, but an audit leaked to the Baltimore Sun suggests when it was operating, more than half of the violations it recorded were wrong---some 58 percent of them.
"Actually that's in my district so I'll be hearing from some of my constituency who received those citations," said City Councilman Robert Curran who was surprised to learn the city's speed cameras had a combined error rate of more than 10 percent or one out of every 10 tickets that cost the car owner a $40 fine, "I would be concerned if I was part of the motoring public that got a ticket at a certain location. Was that an error for me and what mechanism they can have now to get a refund for certain locations."
Kevin Harris, director of the Mayor's Office of Policy and Communications balked at the conclusions drawn from the leaked report in a statement to the media:
"This document is an inconclusive report that does not reflect any final conclusions about the accuracy of the speed camera program, as is noted on page seven. It is false to insinuate that the City sought to keep the public in the dark when we acted quickly to take the speed camera program offline due to errors, voided erroneous citations and provided refunds to impacted residents. The idea that there are more problems than have already been made public are not supported by this document. The Mayor has been clear that the program will remain offline until we can vouch for its accuracy."
The city's cameras have been offline since April, which is about the time a secret audit revealed the extent of the errors, but it was kept confidential as part of an agreement with a company that no longer runs the program.
"It's certainly one of those things that I, as a task force member, am finding very frustrating," said Ragina Cooper-Averella who was a member of the task force charged with looking into the problems, but was never made aware of those findings, "Some municipalities operate these speed camera programs with limited issues. I think the city unfortunately has a tremendous uphill battle regarding their program, because there have been so many issues regarding the credibility."
Howard and Baltimore Counties also used the same types of cameras from the same company, but with different results.
"Did they just dump all the faulty cameras in the city because they felt like the city is easy to get over on or they felt like they could believe people from the city?" asked Councilman Brandon Scott, "We don't know what was in the minds of the folks who made those cameras and put them out on the streets from that company, and those are the types of questions that we have to have answered."
The council members we spoke with don't want to abandon the program, but there is talk about replacing the cameras and selling the current ones for parts.
This article has been updated with comments from the Mayor's Office.