Montgomery County Police say the speed camera program the county started in 2009 has made roads safer and reduced speeding in a way no other tool could.
“What we’ve seen is something that’s changed driver behavior like nothing else has in the history of law enforcement,” Capt. Paul Starks, a police spokesperson, told County Cable Montgomery.
Starks said the number of citations from speed cameras is on a steady decline, proof that the program is working and not merely a revenue strategy.
“Our goal from the start has been to change driver behavior, particularly in areas where we have pedestrians and a history of collisions,” County Councilmember Phil Andrews (D) said. Andrews chairs the Council’s Public Safety Committee. “Our police department has done an excellent job of placing cameras where the history shows there’s been a large number of collisions or where there ar many pedestrians, especially children, present in school areas or areas near bus stops, playgrounds and areas where speeding has been a long concern and there’s been a connection to collisions.”
In 2009, the first year of the program, the county issued 526,399 combined speed camera and red light camera citations for $25 million worth of revenue. Speed camera tickets are $40.
Those numbers have gradually declined since.
Video via County Cable Montgomery
Montgomery County Police say the removal of a Bethesda speed camera that a District Court judge ruled was improperly placed was not a result of that January court decision.
MCP Traffic Division program manager Dan McNickle said the department still believes the camera was properly placed in the 4300 block of Jones Bridge Road, though it was moved in December to another location.
There are six Portable Camera Unit (PCU) locations on Jones Bridge Road between Connecticut Avenue and Wisconsin Avenue — four on the eastbound side and two on the westbound side. McNickle said the cameras are regularly moved.
In January, District Court Judge John Moffett ruled in favor of attorney, political activist and famous sports heckler Robin Ficker, who challenged a $40 citation he received from the camera on Sept. 5, 2012.
Ficker successfully argued that the camera, at the bottom of a hill near the secure entrance to the Uniformed Services University, wasn’t legally placed because it was not within 300 feet of a residence.
Moffett agreed, rescinding Ficker’s $40 fine.
Montgomery County Police issued a press release saying the department would not review other tickets from the camera and that Moffett misinterpreted the law:
According to § 21-809(vi) of Maryland Transportation Article, a speed-monitoring system may be placed:
- On a highway in a residential district, as defined in § 21-101 of this title, with a maximum posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour, which speed limit was established using generally accepted traffic-engineering practices; or
- In a school zone established under § 21-803.1 of this subtitle.
Maryland Transportation Article § 21-101 defines a residential district as:
- Not a business district; or
- An area that adjoins and includes a highway where the property along the highway, for a distance of at least 300 feet, is improved mainly with residences or residences and buildings used for business.
Montgomery County Police said the speed camera was properly placed because it was placed on a roadway that contains at least 300 feet of residences and that the law does not say a speed camera must be placed within 300 feet of a residence.
A speed camera in the 4300 block of eastbound Jones Bridge Road that was still there after the court decision has also been moved. That camera at question in Ficker’s case was on the westbound side of the road.
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Montgomery County Police yesterday slammed a District Court judge’s ruling on a controversial Bethesda speed camera and said the Department would not review other cases in which citations were issued by the camera.
Judge John Moffett on Monday ruled for attorney and political activist Robin Ficker, who claimed the speed camera in the 4300 block of Jones Bridge Road was improperly placed. Ficker got a $40 citation from the camera on Sept. 5 and argued the camera was not placed within 300 feet of a residence.
Moffett agreed and rescinded Ficker’s citation. But Police say Moffett misinterpreted Maryland Transportation Article 21-101, which defines a residential district as an area where there is at least 300 feet of residences.
Speed cameras can only be placed in residential areas, according to state law. Police made their disagreement with the ruling clear in a press release:
Based on the guidelines set forth by the Maryland Transportation Article and the data obtained from the Montgomery County DTS-GIS, the M-NCPPC, and the U.S. Census Bureau, the Montgomery County Police Department maintains that the speed camera was properly placed. The Department continues to monitor the speed-camera program to ensure compliance with state guidelines.
Judge Moffett’s decision does not establish a precedent that will be binding in other cases presented in court, and the decision in this case does not require a modification of Department policy. The Department will not be reviewing other cases in which citations were issued by this speed camera.
The camera is on the eastbound side of Jones Bridge Road near a golf course and across from the entrance to the Uniformed Services University on the Walter Reed campus. The nearest home is 270 yards away.
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Flickr photo by OnlyOneJK
According to scanner traffic, an unidentified commercial vehicle was near a batch of Montgomery County speed cameras in the 5800 block of Grosvenor Lane. A case of vandalism, a common incident when it comes to the county’s nearly 75 fixed pole cameras, was suspected.
In this case, an officer responded to the scene and noticed no sign of vandalism, said Officer Janelle Smith, a police spokeswoman. She said she didn’t know why a piece at the base of the camera was missing and the wiring was exposed.
She did say that acts of vandalism to county speed cameras occur a few times a month, ranging from graffiti to more destructive acts.
“The program makes every effort possible to reduce the risk of vandalism and aggressively works to catch individuals who are at fault so they may be prosecuted and pay for their destructive behavior,” Smith said.
In June, a Howard County man took out his frustration over a number of speed camera citations by using a slingshot to fire marbles at a mobile camera unit.
A nearby homeowner walking by the Grosvenor Lane cameras on Tuesday said he saw the police stop to check the cameras and easily deduced why.
The cameras “flash every night,” he said. “They get a lot of people.”