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New Speed Camera Bill Would Create Privacy Issues, Government Burden, City Says

If the Maryland House bill is passed, College Park would be required to maintain all images captured by speed cameras, and make them available to the public.

The College Park City Council was unanimous Tuesday night in its opposition to a Maryland House bill that would amend existing speed camera regulations, stating it would cause privacy issues and an unnecessary burden to local jurisdictions.

Among several new provisions, House Bill 1044 would require local jurisdictions to keep and make public the records of all speed camera photos, whether or not a citation is issued.

“If someone is stalking you, they can request these records and find out at what times you drive past these cameras,” said the city’s Director Bob Ryan. “Keeping these records is irrelevant to public safety. It just creates an additional burden to the government.”

The city currently stores records through its system contractor for every citation issued, and they are kept confidential, according to a letter drafted by City Councilman . Council voted Tuesday evening to send the letter to the chair of the state's Environmental Matters Committee, which is assigned to the bill.

The letter outlines other areas of contention, including a requirement for an annual calibration of the speed camera equipment by a third party. This could create an unnecessary expense, as the city would need this service in addition to the maintenance that is already being performed, according to Wojahn.

“Calibrations are something we already do…by the same company that calibrates lasers for NASA,” Wojahn said.  “To the best of my knowledge, their equipment has never been successfully challenged in court.”

This bill also has a provision that all speed camera equipment be certified by the International Association of Chiefs of Police

“I am not sure why the IACP was chosen to certify the equipment,” Wojahn said. “They have no legal authority to set standards for the government.”

Richard February 29, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Where does it say that the jurisdictions must keep and make public the photographs? It says that the photographs must be available to the named drivers for their defense. Synopsis: Requiring that a speed monitoring system calibration check be performed by an independent calibration laboratory that is unaffiliated with the manufacturer of the speed monitoring system; authorizing a person named in a citation based on a recorded image produced by a speed monitoring system to use the recorded image in defense of the violation charged; and prohibiting a contractor's fee from being contingent on the number of citations issued or paid if the contractor administers or processes the citations.
SBBMD February 29, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Gee, good job not investigating the legislation before writing about it, in order to confirm whether the city's claim has any basis in fact. College Park opposes this bill because it is directed towards problems with the city's program. The images are supposed to be kept and made available to DEFENDANTS so they can USE THEM FOR THEIR DEFENSE. The bill also protects the right to confront the camera operator in court. What College Park is really afraid of is that if they are required to retain images currently being deleted by their contractor they might reveal technical problems with the cameras, and those images might be made available to an investigator from outside the city.
SBBMD February 29, 2012 at 11:55 PM
The IACP has established a nationally accepted list of law enforcement devices in cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is the most widely accepted standard in the US for speed enforcement devices. Certain local governments would prefer to use cut-rate hardware which does not meet NHTSA/IACP standards for accuracy and which are only tested to an arbitrary "manufacturer specification" which does not scientifically prove accuracy under real world conditions.
Richard March 01, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Investigate the legislation? If they did, they would realize that the infamous Metzerott Road camera is in violation to the rules of deployment. But why do that? Abiding by the rules would only mean a loss in revenue.
Ken Montville March 01, 2012 at 01:08 PM
This comes under the "cry me a river" category. If speed cameras were about public safety, they would be "hunter's cap" orange so people could see them and slow down. But that would mean a loss in revenue. Speed cameras are purely a revenue source with a by-product being a general slowing of traffic or public safety. The big headline in my version of The Gazette trumpeted the amount of revenue Prince George's has collected already...and expects to collect (http://bit.ly/yTMBKg) Privacy issue? Stalkers? I'll go along with that. So let's get rid of the cameras...period. Who's to say the information won't be compromised or hacked anyway?

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