1/30/2015Brentwood, Maryland Hides Speed Camera Errors
Brentwood, Maryland dodges public records request to avoid admitting serious accuracy errors in speed camera program.
Brentwood, Maryland succeeded in concealing just how plagued with inaccurate readings its speed camera program has been. The town spent more than four years dodging numerous attempts by the Maryland Drivers Alliance to use public information laws to obtain emails and other documents pertaining to problems with the system. Only last week did the city hand over the requested files under the pressure of a lawsuit filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
The town claimed it could not comply with the request for emails since it had "lost" the password to the Hotmail account where the messages were stored.
"The town does not have access to these accounts," the attorney for Brentwood wrote in its response to the Maryland Drivers Alliance. "These accounts were apparently utilized by former employees of Brentwood and no current employee of the town can access these accounts."
Many of the emails that were finally provided highlighted problems with Optotraffic, the private vendor that runs every aspect of the program.
"Hi Angie," Brentwood Police Chief David W. Risik wrote in a July 8, 2010 email to the vendor. "You all must have someone new reviewing citations. I am receiving a whole lot of mistakes. Blatant wrong tags with obvious wrong vehicle makes."
Dozens of emails discuss citations wrongly issued to automobiles and buses. Often, the recipient of an erroneous ticket was forced to marshal evidence of his innocence. One motorist sent an email complaining that he received a ticket for a car that he had not driven in twenty-two years.
"Be advised that the tag number shown in subject citation was issued to me by MVA on an 87 Dodge pickup, but as shown on the attached exhibits from MVA, the tags were returned and the registration canceled on 11-21-89," the motorist wrote. "Your prompt attention and correction to this matter will be greatly appreciated."
The driver of a Lexus IS250 complained that he received a ticket for someone else's vehicle, but he was confused because he was told to mail payment to the "Town of Brentwood" at a post office box in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The PO box is run by Optotraffic.
"My vehicle was not in Brentwood, or anywhere in Pennsylvania on 02/08/11," the confused motorist wrote. "In fact, I have never driven this vehicle to Pennsylvania."
Others were forced to go to great lengths to document that they were thousands of miles away from Brentwood at the time of the alleged violation.
"I received your January 10, 2011 citation on the above referenced date," an annoyed ticket recipient wrote. "On January 3, 2011, I left the People's Republic of Maryland on a road trip, in my only car, with my grandson. Your certified citation claims my car was in Maryland on the date of the violation. Please find enclosed receipts to prove your claim false. The referenced tag number is mine, however, my tag is on a 2011 Mercedes CLS-550, and your photo is of a car not of this class. The photo of the tag number is not legible and your agent... guessed at what it might be. In the name of safety for women and children it's my recommendation this employee be retrained."