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10/16/2010
DC, Maryland Traffic Cameras Ticket Innocent Drivers
Washington, DC camera flashes the innocent as Brentwood, Maryland camera tickets innocent former cop.

District neighborhood
A retired Anne Arundel County, Maryland police officer received a ticket in the mail claiming he was speeding in Brentwood and demanding $40 payment. Melvin C. Catterton, a 30-year veteran of the force, knew he had not been speeding, as first reported by StopBigBrotherMD.org. When he looked closer at the blurry photograph he received in the mail, he realized the vehicle responsible was a silver 2000 Mercedes C-Class license plate FOP-1823. Catterton drives a 2009 Mercury Marquis SED, license plate FOP-1023.

Catterton called the Brentwood Police Department and was told that he had to come in and talk to Chief David Risik in person to dispute the charges against him. Catterton did so, asking the chief whether he rubber stamped every citation he received from Optotraffic without comparing the photographed vehicle with the description pulled from the owner's registration. Risik did not answer.

"How many other innocent motorists have received a false citation by you making them guilty by association and afraid to come forth and challenge the process," Catterton wrote in a letter to the Brentwood mayor and council. "[Given] Chief Risik's sarcastic attitude I doubt that he will send me an apology letter canceling the citation -- could you ensure that this occurs."

Just four miles away, similar problems are being raised in the District of Columbia where residents are up in arms over an out-of-control red light camera at First Street and Rhode Island Avenue, NW. Drivers who properly stopped before making right-hand turns complain about receiving citations in the mail. Locals are also irritated by the camera constantly flashing, even when no cars are in the intersection.

"I think it automatically goes off every time the light turns red," a resident who lives on Rhode Island Avenue wrote on a neighborhood forum. "Incredibly annoying. It feels like there is a lightning storm 24 hours a day from the flash."

Advisory Neighborhood Commission Member John T. Salatti said he would take up the issue with the District Department of Transportation and the Department of Motor Vehicles.



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