- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The man responsible for implementing the District’s automated traffic-enforcement program has been selected by a local charitable foundation for an award recognizing the achievement.

Inspector Patrick Burke, who formerly headed the Metropolitan Police Department’s traffic division and now commands the 3rd District substation, is one of five 2005 recipients of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Awards for Distinguished D.C. Government Employees.

According to the foundation, Inspector Burke was “instrumental in identifying locations for D.C.’s red-light cameras, developing protocols and procedures for program implementation, and spearheading public education and information efforts.”

The award, established in 2000 and offered annually, carries a prize of $7,500. This year the five winners were selected from 150 applicants. They will be honored at a reception at the George Washington University Cafritz Conference Center tonight.

The award comes just a month after automobile-owner group AAA designated the District a “strict enforcement area,” the first time an entire city had received such a designation. Critics, including the auto club, have argued that the District’s use of the cameras is more about money than safety.

The city’s speed cameras have generated more than $89 million in fines since 2001. The 49 red-light cameras have produced more than $33 million since 1999.

Kassandra Kearse, program director for the Cafritz awards, said the debate about the use of traffic-enforcement cameras did not enter into the selection committee’s thinking.

“It’s not a factor the fact that it’s controversial,” she said. “We have a selection criteria that each applicant is judged on.”

The criteria include solving an extraordinary problem or achieving a significantly difficult goal; performing an outstanding act that brings positive recognition to the city; successfully initiating and implementing an innovative idea that brings about dramatic results; consistently achieving excellence in overall job performance; and demonstrating outstanding and inspirational leadership that dramatically improved employee morale and team spirit.

“The District’s program has been held up as a nationwide model,” she said. “The results of the program in terms of speeding have been dramatic.”

She cited U.S. Transportation Department statistics showing that the District’s 36 percent reduction in traffic deaths from 2003 to 2004 was the best in the country.

Police also have said that the 45 traffic-related fatalities last year were the fewest in the past 18 years.

The other honorees include Dr. Tedla Giorgis, a program manager with the Department of Mental Health’s Multicultural Services Agency; Veronica Lipscombe, a director in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer’s citywide technical service; John McGaw, a special assistant in the executive office of the mayor; and Mehr Moradi, a management officer with the Department of Health.

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