- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2002

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday said he wants the District's electronic traffic camera program to have less emphasis on revenue especially for Affiliated Computer Services Inc., the Dallas-based company operating the cameras.
"We ought to structure the system to ensure there is no windfall," Mr. Williams said on WTOP Radio yesterday. "None of us wants to see that from this activity."
Nevertheless, like members of the D.C. Council, Mr. Williams has been unmoved by the growing unpopularity of the cameras, and he wants to keep them.
The cameras, he says, are needed to "calm" traffic on neighborhood streets. He says he doesn't want the revenue provided for in the current contract to lead to a conflict of interest for Affiliated Computer Services Inc., which operates the city's 37 red-light and five photo-radar cameras.
Since the installation of the photo-radar cameras in August, the District has issued more than 160,000 speeding citations. The city has collected $5,326,922 in fines; more than $2.1 million of that has gone to the Texas company, which collects $29 for every speeding ticket paid. The revenue has far exceeded expectations.
D.C. Council members Linda W. Cropp and Jack Evans criticized the program in separate interviews with The Washington Times in the past week, Mr. Evans suggesting repeal of the photo-radar camera enforcement program.
Mr. Williams, speaking to WTOP Radio interviewers from Salt Lake City, where he was attending the Olympic Games, said he would work with the council to eliminate "bugs" in the system, but he cited the demands of hundreds of residents to slow traffic on municipal streets.
The mayor said he heard no complaints about the cameras at the Ward 3 Traffic Summit two weeks ago.
"I didn't receive one complaint about the enforcement there, but that doesn't mean there aren't concerns about fairness," said Mr. Williams, a Democrat. "Whatever devices we use have to be done fair and they have got to be done right, but we have to make sure we are calming the traffic in our residential neighborhoods."
Mr. Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, questioned the fairness of the program and the financial incentives for the company last week. "I hate the program," he said. He said there could be some movement "by the council or by me to repeal the [photo-radar] program."
Mrs. Cropp, council chairman, cited concerns that the city was not receiving enough of the revenue. "We need to see if we're giving the company that runs the system too many incentives to make money off of it," she said.
But Mrs. Cropp, at-large Democrat, said she likes the cameras. "I don't want police officers sitting on a corner watching cars go by; I want them in the community."
Other council members have tended to agree more with the chairman.
Critics of the cameras, citing the fact that speeders caught on camera do not get "points" against their driving records, argue that the cameras are installed to generate revenue and that other, less expensive methods would "calm" traffic.
Terrance W. Gainer, executive assistant chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, said the D.C. Office of the Corporation Counsel is writing a new flat-fee contract and some movement is expected in the next two weeks.
"I called the Corporation Counsel to see if they could get the contract done a week earlier," Chief Gainer said in an interview last week.
The legislatures of Virginia and Maryland are considering their uses of traffic cameras. Virginia's Republican-led General Assembly is moving toward eliminating hidden cameras designed to catch red-light runners.
Maryland's House of Delegates is considering legislation to enable municipalities to install the cameras.

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