Balto. Co. Speed Cameras Draw Opposition

August 20, 2009|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

A proposal to install speed monitoring cameras in Baltimore County school zones drew the ire of many residents attending a meeting with officials Wednesday at the Towson Library.

About 25 speakers expressed their opinions, with most being opposed to the cameras.

Del. Bill Frank said this is "Big Brother run amok." But his legislative colleague Steve Lafferty said, "If you're against this legislation, you're concerned less about children than you are about making a statement."

Police Chief Jim Johnson gave statistics to show that the technology works and decreases speed-related accidents. Still, many of the about 50 in attendance said the cameras would be a money-making operation.

Steve Bailey said if the county puts these cameras at all 174 schools, the revenue could exceed 10 percent of the county's operating budget, or $177 million.

Cynthia Weisz of Stevenson Lane spoke of the number of family pets killed by speeders and the crossing guards near-misses. She said that the cameras are not a violation of due process and "if you don't like them, then don't speed."

Cameras would be installed in school areas and operate from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The County Council will consider the proposal at its work session Sept. 1 and would likely vote on it the next week. If passed, it would authorize the county Police Department to purchase and use the cameras. Motorists traveling 12 mph over the posted speed limit could face a $40 fine.

"If you can't support slowing down in school zones, what are you saying?" asked Council Chairman Joseph Bartenfelder. "Some people are saying that the police should enforce speed laws at schools. But how can the police be at every school?"

If enacted, the law would take effect Oct. 1. For 30 days after that, speeders detected by the cameras would receive a warning.

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