nettime's_speed_demon on Sun, 18 Aug 2013 16:15:59 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Speed camera firms move to hide evidence

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Home > Camera Enforcement > Speed Cameras > DC, Maryland: Speed Camera 
Firms Move To Hide Evidence

   DC, Maryland: Speed Camera Firms Move To Hide Evidence

   Afraid of refunds, Washington, DC and Salisbury, Maryland conceal
   evidence that could reveal camera inaccuracy.

   [Cropped camera photo] The firms operating red light cameras and speed
   cameras in the District of Columbia and Maryland are working to
   suppress evidence that could be used to prove the innocence of a photo
   enforcement ticket recipient. In Washington, the Arizona-based vendor
   American Traffic Solutions has repositioned cameras and cropped photos
   so that it is impossible to determine whether another object or vehicle
   happens to be within the radar unit's field of view.

   The change is important since DC hearing adjudicators have been
   throwing out citations whenever another vehicle was visible, creating
   the possibility of a spurious radar reading (view ruling). The
   cropping also makes it extremely difficult to use pavement lines to
   perform a secondary check of the speed estimate provided by the radar.
   Lines painted on the road for this purpose are visible in one photo,
   but not the other (view first photo, view second photo). No
   video is provided to the vehicle owner.

   The District has also recently been installing next-generation speed
   cameras that use infrared light instead of a visible flash when
   photographing vehicles. This means drivers will have no way of knowing
   whether they will receive a ticket until weeks after the alleged

   In Salisbury, Maryland, the city and its private speed camera
   contractor Brekford are working together to prevent the Maryland
   Drivers Alliance from confirming whether the photo enforcement program
   is in compliance with state law. There is good reason to believe it is
   not, as other towns that allow Brekford to issue tickets, including
   Greenbelt and Hagerstown, have been forced to refund illegally
   issued citations.

   At issue is whether Brekford's cameras were properly certified under
   Maryland Code Section 21-809, which requires testing on an annual basis
   by an independent lab. The law states that the results of such testing
   "shall be kept on file" along with a daily setup log. The
   Maryland-based motoring rights group simply asked for a copy of the
   file. The city and camera company now insist that the group must pay
   $535 to the speed camera contractor for the calibration certificates
   and logs that the municipality is required to keep on file. These are
   documents that the State Highway Administration makes freely available
   on its website.

   "In regards to this request, it is anticipated to take six total hours
   to gather and assemble the requested documents," Brekford wrote in a
   July 16 letter to the Salisbury police chief. "The first two hours will
   be provided without charge, however the addition four hours shall be
   charged at the rate of $75.00 per hour. An additional $235.00 will be
   charged for the copying and mailing services rendered in providing the
   requested information. Additionally, Brekford does not release or
   provide technical specifications on any of our camera systems."

   The city also delayed responding to the request for thirty days, which
   the motorist group says is one of many violations of the state's public
   records laws. The refusal to provide basic specifications regarding the
   camera's operation is also raising eyebrows.

   "Basically they are saying the public is just supposed to 'trust us'
   when Brekford says their equipment is of a sort which is reliable,
   since they are withholding all documents which describe the
   technology," said Ron Ely, the Maryland Drivers Alliance chairman.

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