- The Washington Times - Friday, March 1, 2002

Frederick, Md., police this week pitched red-light camera enforcement to city officials, who said they wanted to study the issue before implementing a program.
Acting Police Chief Harold Domer requested $75,000 in his 2003 budget to install five cameras in the city, which is the state's second-most populous, with roughly 53,000 residents.
Chief Domer brought in Howard County Sgt. Tim Black to discuss red-light cameras with Democratic Mayor Jennifer P. Dougherty and the five-member Board of Aldermen at a city workshop Wednesday.
The chief said intersections with numerous accidents were of particular interest.
"The Route 40 corridor from Klein Street to West Patrick is a state highway, and there are a few intersections there with high frequencies of accidents we will look at," Chief Domer said in an interview yesterday.
He said the goal will be to reduce the number of violations and improve traffic safety, and not generate revenue, which is one of the biggest criticisms of Maryland lawmakers opposed to similar camera-enforcement programs around the state.
"This is not a program where we need beaucoup cameras. I want to take small steps initially," Chief Domer said. "I am not initially looking for a fee for each ticket."
On Wednesday, Frederick officials requested a feasibility study on the program and said they would not make any decisions before seeing the study's results.
Neither the mayor nor the aldermen contacted returned calls seeking comment yesterday.
Chief Domer said police will study Route 40 accident data over the last two years, and analyze other city streets to determine where the cameras should go.
He said reviewing yellow-light times and other road-engineering measures also will be considered.
Chief Domer said if he gets the funding, he most likely will use Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services as a supplier of the cameras.
ACS runs electronic traffic-enforcement programs in other parts of the region including the District, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland and Alexandria and Fairfax County in Virginia.
ACS typically receives a fee for each ticket motorists pay.
Several Maryland lawmakers are skeptical of automated traffic enforcement programs.
Sen. Walter M. Baker, upper Eastern Shore Democrat and chairman of the powerful Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, has called the camera "nothing more than another tax."
Delegate John F. Wood Jr., St. Mary's Democrat, said he is concerned that the proliferation of electronic traffic enforcement programs in recent years is about money, not safety.
Mr. Baker has also said the issue is not likely to go anywhere in the Senate this year. "As far as I'm concerned, it's dead," he said this week.
But yesterday, Montgomery County officials put their weight behind pending legislation.
The county eager to be one of the first jurisdictions in the state to use cameras to catch speeders wants to use five mobile radar cameras that would take photos of speeding vehicles, with citations sent in the mail to the cars' owners.
The primary motivation is safety, not the potential millions in fees the county would make, said County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.
"We don't want anyone to run a red light, we don't want anyone to speed. If we get zero dollars from this, then it's working," he said, standing next to an intersection where a pedestrian was killed by a car recently.
A bill introduced in the House would set up pilot speed-camera programs in Montgomery County, Howard County and Baltimore city, while the Senate version would allow jurisdictions statewide to use the systems.
The cameras are popular with law enforcement the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association backs the Senate version.
Some Maryland localities currently use cameras to watch over red-light runners, but none is able set up speed cameras that use radar to check vehicle speeds and photograph license plates.
The cameras proposed by Montgomery Police Chief Charles A. Moose would be mounted on the backs of vans and operated by county officers, and would be used largely in residential areas and school zones.
Drivers would receive citations only if they exceed the speed limit by 5 mph or more in school zones and 15 mph on all other roads, Chief Moose said. No penalty points would be given to drivers.
Montgomery County officials said the hope the cameras would cut down on pedestrian fatalities; 14 persons were killed by vehicles last year in the county. In Washington, police say cameras cut the number of speeders by 16 percent during their first six months of use.
Speeding cameras, along with red-light cameras, have raised the ire of people who feel they are invasions of privacy. They include Sen. Alex X. Mooney, Frederick Republican, who has introduced a bill that would outlaw red-light cameras.
"You'd probably catch of lot of criminals if you put cameras in everybody's house. It's an invasion of privacy," Mr. Mooney said.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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