Driver Sues For Towns To End Secrecy Surrounding Speed Camera Data; Private Contractor


The leader of a motorist advocacy group in Maryland is suing two municipalities for failing to provide information about how they authorized a speed limit change on a local road, and then hired a private company to operate a speed camera and collect ticket revenue from drivers.

“An agency which places cameras on every street corner shouldn’t be allowed to break the law in order to keep secrets,” Ron Ely, the head of the Maryland Drivers Alliance, told automotive policy website TheNewspaper. “However, this really isn’t about speed cameras. If local governments can conceal potentially embarrassing information from the public on this issue, then what else will they be allowed to hide?”

Ely filed the lawsuit in Prince George’s County, Md. Circuit Court last week, asking the court only to declare that the speed cam data falls within the realm of municipal documents that must be kept on file as a matter of public record, as established by the Maryland Public Information Act. The suit also seeks a $1,000 fine for Brentwood officials who have so far stonewalled Ely’s original request, which originally was filed in October of 2010.

From the report:

The town [of Brentwood] eventually responded in June 2012, demanding that Ely pay a schedule of fees for the involvement of various town employees, including $200 an hour for the town attorney. The total cost to access the documents was left open-ended. Ely considered this response a constructive denial of his request.

…In Morningside, Ely is not seeking obscure or difficult to obtain records. Instead, he wants the calibration certificates and daily setup logs that must be “kept on file” under the state’s speed camera authorization statute. Already, two localities have been caught violating state law in allowing a private company to operate cameras without documenting the calibrations, as required.

Ely filed the request on June 5, but it failed to respond within thirty days, as required under the public records statute. After calling the town, Ely finally received an email from the town attorney on July 25 neither granting nor denying the request.

“Please be advised that the town of Morningside is not the speed monitoring system operator as that term is defined in the Maryland Annotated Code, and therefore, the town of Morningside does not maintain the records and documents pursuant to your request,” Morningside town attorney Todd K. Pounds wrote on August 5.

What Pounds means by that last statement is that the town of Morningside has handed enforcement, along with revenue collections, over to a private company that operates the speed camera. Brekford, the company that installs and maintains the equipment, gets 40 percent of every speeding ticket fine.


Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • independent thinker

    The guy has legitimate concerns since Brekford has been caught numerous times using miss-calibrated equipment and otherwise breaking laws concerning the use of speed cameras.

  • MontieR

    And speeding tickets wen’t up three or four times the cost.

    • John

      Yeah, but the municipalities that are using the cameras have to pay higher commissions and they want the money so raise the fines to cover the commissions. That is what the corrupt governments do.

  • Andy

    As the economy gets worst cites and towns have come to look at traffic tickets as a source of income for their cities. It has little to do with public safety any more but more about the dollars. I have two ,what the city calls “Fixed Fess” on my water bill each month that total $9.00, that’s 23% increase in my water bill with no explanation as too why the fees are there.

  • Steve

    40% cut for all speeding/traffic violations makes this a program ripe for fraud, time to shut down all cameras, let the cops do their jobs instead of parading around in their new swat/gestapo military gear.

  • dan

    Cops usually get from 10-50% of a bonus for speeding tickets,too…

  • terri

    Warning: If some cops are accuse innocent whoever speed ticket nothing high speed when cops collect speed tickets bonus fraud. They rip it off our money for innocent. Cut cameras spy, speed rador down…No good idea!!

    • Xavier

      I agree… I think.

  • Michael Shreve

    It is NO secret that traffic “enforcement” is too often about REVENUE rather than SAFETY.

  • Chuck

    Maybe he should speed, get a ticket and challenge it in court to see the calibration records through the court. Would they produce the records or throw out the tickedt?

    • Robert Messmer

      Hmm you mean on the basis of confronting his accuser. Just might work, either way it would stay in the courts for some time and unfortunately wind up costing the taxpayers a lot of money.

  • Maryland Freestater

    I believe ALL snooping cameras should be removed from every public place in the once great state of Maryland. Ticket picked up by whoever the parent company which supplied these monstrosities. Prosecution against all govt. and commercial entities who approved and executed deployment. Since the whole scam smells like a racket- install cameras, reduce yellow light on time, arbitrarily reduce speed limits- is this not prosecutable under some sort of RICO Act? Should be…