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October 28, 2013
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Md. speed cameras taken offline after certification lapse

Officials were forced to void more than 1,400 citations and take all 12 cameras out of service for more than a month

By Scott Calvert
The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE COUNTY — Baltimore County officials failed to ensure that 12 county speed cameras underwent a required calibration check this year, prompting officials to void more than 1,400 citations and take all dozen cameras out of service for more than a month.

But county officials never alerted the public about the lapse, even after the problems were resolved in late March and automated enforcement had resumed.

Asked last week about the lack of publicity, county spokeswoman Ellen Kobler said in an email: "We do not publish which sites are active and which are not as that defeats the program's goal of reducing speeding in all school zones."

Ragina Averella, government and public affairs manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic, applauded the county for voiding the tickets but said officials should have gone public. "We're concerned about the level of transparency and accountability and that there was no effort to make the public aware these problems existed," she said.

The 12 fixed-pole cameras were due to be recertified by Feb. 16 under a provision of state law that requires an independent lab to check the calibration once a year. But a few days later, the county's vendor, Xerox State and Local Solutions, told the county that it had missed the deadline, Kobler said.

"The recertification process was a specific responsibility of Xerox and the County assumed Xerox had the cameras recertified," she wrote. "The County has since established a procedure to work more closely with Xerox in the certification process."

Xerox spokesman Carl Langsenkamp referred questions to the county.

Averella expressed concern about the county's oversight of a program that pays Xerox nearly $19 of each $40 fine payment. "Unfortunately issues like this bring into question once again who is actually managing the automated enforcement systems in counties and municipalities across the state," she said.

Kobler said the county immediately stopped issuing tickets from the cameras after being alerted by Xerox and voided 1,467 citations approved for issuance.

The county, which has 36 speed cameras in use, kept the 12 affected cameras out of service until after the recertification process was completed March 22, Kobler said.

She said Xerox paid the county $57,714 as compensation.

The 12 cameras are located in the 1700 block of Woodlawn Drive southbound; 3000 block of Essex Road NB; 3800 block of Washington Ave. SB; 2900 block of Smith Ave. SB; 4600 block of Old Court Rd. EB; 200 block of Stevenson Lane EB; 9800 block of Greenside Drive NB; 200 block of Padonia Road SB; 2700 block of Putty Hill Ave. EB; 7000 block Dunmanway WB; 1200 block of Sulphur Spring Road EB and 7500 block of Hillsway Road SB.


McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Copyright 2013 The Baltimore Sun






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