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Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
Topic - Lisa Sutter
The District's automated traffic enforcement program increased its revenue by more than 100 percent from 2011 to 2012, jumping from $42.9 million to $95.6 million, according to figures released Thursday by the city.
The efforts of a D.C. police sergeant to force a refund of $1.8 million in allegedly invalid speed-camera tickets represent just one aspect of what he says is ailing the District's automated speed-enforcement program.
Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Mark Robinson tried for months to persuade D.C. traffic officials to rescind more than 100,000 defective citations he said were a result of unreliable speed cameras, but when he got caught by one of them himself in the Third Street Tunnel, he took a different course.
A veteran Metropolitan Police sergeant says higher-ups at the department and the city council chairman are protecting a manager accused of misusing department funds, failing to rescind defective speed-camera citations and improperly voiding legitimate tickets.
Members of a D.C. Council task force on traffic fines agreed on Tuesday that speed limits and red-light cameras improve safety, but city officials need to show "a rational nexus" between hefty fines that can reach $150 and drivers' willingness to change their behavior.
The Metropolitan Police Department has issued some 7,000 speeding tickets and demanded more than $1.2 million in fines since November from speed cameras in the Third Street Tunnel in Northwest D.C.
In the District, the speed camera program came under fire recently after a police sergeant — a former radar instructor — claimed the program's director, Lisa Sutter, a civilian, abused her authority and failed to maintain minimum performance standards.
The District has experienced 11 traffic-related deaths this year, she said, about a 60 percent decrease from this time last year.