Speed Camera Redux: Opponents Take the Mic

The majority of those who attended last week's hearing to talk speed cameras were in favor of the legislation. But there was no shortage of moxie from opponents.

Although more than twice as many attendees at were in favor of legislation that would allow the use of speed cameras in school and work zones, opponents had a lot to say. Here is testimony from Howard County Police Chief William McMahon along with testimony from some of the program's opponents. 

Michael April 26, 2011 at 10:31 PM
Police Chief William McMahon stated that it would take about 8 to 10 officers to run a similar program. He cited the court costs of more people contesting the more expensive citations, training officers, and pulling officers from other duties would be more expensive. “A speed camera program,” he said, would be “significantly cheaper, for lack of a better word, than sworn officers.” What kind of “similar program” is McMahon talking about? Setting up random radar traps? Why would it be more expensive - the officers involved are already on duty and being paid? Numerous studies have shown that about 95 percent of those cited simply pay their ticket by mail. Only about 5 percent show up for their court date. I just don't see those added expenses Chief McMahon talks about. Here is a cheaper, and safer (for the kids) idea. There are 72 schools in Howard Co. How hard would it be to simply have a police officer park on the road outside the school with his lights flashing during the periods when children are coming to or leaving school? They are already on duty, these periods last for only 15-20 minutes, and cars entering school zones during these “at risk” times will most assuredly slow down. If these speed cameras truly are for the safety of the children, and not just a money making operation for the county coffers, having officers on-site at the times when children are most at risk is a much better way to protect them.
Sarmajor April 27, 2011 at 06:49 PM
Michael - How many cops do you think work in Howard County during the school day? The 72 units that you would have tied up during school reporting and leaving times exceed the total cars on duty in the county. But lets say they didn't... do you seriously think that because they are on duty that it is better than a couple of technicians with cameras at random school locations? I used to do staffing analysis on police calls-for-service using data from the computer aided dispatch (911) systems in agencies throughout the United States. Believe me, if you want to open a can of worms about poor response times to 911 calls start tying your officers up all at the same time. When would you plan your robbery??? Even if you phased the times out so that an officer moved from high school to middle school to elementary school, you would still be putting valuable resources on an extended detail that detracts from their ability to respond to a 911 call that you or your family may place. I didn't hear Chief McMahon's testimony so I don't know if he is referring to other speed enforcement programs or the red light cameras but be assured that he has given this some thought. He has worked his way through the department and I have known him since day 1. You couldn't ask for a more honest and well informed chief. Will it stop speeders? You betcha'. Will the county make money? Yep - at least until speeders stop speeding. Is the money his major motivator? Not in the least.
Michael April 27, 2011 at 10:54 PM
Sarmajor - I know there are over 300 police officers on the Howard Co. force . I'm not sure how many patrol cars cars are available, but I'm sure there are enough to cover the schools, and have others available to chase bad guys during their early morning and mid-afternoon crime sprees. In addition, there are a number of auxilary officers available who have their own vehicles. You do understand that the schools open and close at different times. heck, they can cover the schools during their donut and coffee breaks. After all, they'd just be sitting in their cars.
Sarmajor April 28, 2011 at 06:07 PM
Mike - There is no arguing with logic like that. You have it all figured out. Thank God you do something else for a living.
Michael April 28, 2011 at 11:06 PM
I didn't say I had it all figured out, nor was I disparaging your buddy, Chief McMahon. I simply put forth an alternative suggestion for solving a problem. Thankfully, I don't have a closed mind like you.
Adam R May 03, 2011 at 10:32 AM
Bring the cameras on! First placement right in front of Norbel School on Old Washington Blvd. Motorists normally go 50 MPH and I have rarely seen HC Police there anymore. Perfect spot, its downhill, past a fire station and before you get to a church. Plenty of speeders here!


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