- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cheverly officials say their speed-camera program has never issued an erroneous citation after acknowledging a camera provided by their former vendor made inaccurate readings and failed to photograph passing vehicles.

“Every citation was reviewed for valid machine calibration, correct location information as well as correct vehicle information, and correct photo evidence,” officials of the Prince George’s County town said in a statement Wednesday. “No citation was ever issued that did not meet these standards.”

The statement followed letters sent this spring and summer from town Administrator David Warrington to vendor Optotraffic, stating the company’s speed-monitoring device sometimes measured exaggerated speeds for vehicles, attempted to photograph nonexistent vehicles and failed to capture pictures of offending vehicles in the two photographs that accompany each citation.

The letters were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and provided to The Washington Times.

Optotraffic broke ties with Cheverly in August, and the town has since hired a new vendor.

Cheverly officials were not alone in their complaints about Optotraffic equipment.

Motorists and AAA Mid-Atlantic also have said the company’s devices sometimes measure inaccurate speeds and are inferior to those used by other vendors. The company provides and operates speed-monitoring devices for more than a dozen Prince George’s municipalities and for the county, which started its speed-camera program in September.

Mr. Warrington detailed specific instances of false readings in Cheverly — such as a bicycle clocked at 57 mph and an “invisible vehicle” at 76 mph — and expressed dissatisfaction in Optotraffic’s response to the town’s concerns.

Town officials said those and other questionable citations were discarded and never sent to drivers. They also said town police regularly verified legitimate citations by testing their radar equipment against Optotraffic’s devices.

In addition, officials disputed the popular charge that municipalities use such cameras to make money more than enhance safety.

“In 2010, Cheverly’s expenses exceeded revenues,” the statement said. “The Town Council decided to continue the program because the program has been a deterrent to speeding, which results in pedestrian safety.”

Optotraffic spokesman Mickey Shepherd said Tuesday that there were “no problems with the equipment” and that the company chose to break ties with the town after determining its camera had effectively reduced speeding to the point that monitoring was no longer needed.