Hancock a step closer to photo speed enforcement in school zones

Town Council approves emergency ordinance allowing use of devices

April 13, 2011|By DON AINES |

The Hancock Town Council moved a step closer to allowing photo speed enforcement in school zones Wednesday night, approving an emergency ordinance allowing use of the devices.

In February the mayor and council heard a presentation by Optotraffic of Lanham, Md., which makes and markets a portable speed-enforcement device. The device uses lasers to measure the speed of vehicles over a set distance and then photographs those traveling in excess of 12 mph above the speed limit, as allowed under Maryland law.

Councilmen Sinclair Hamilton, Nigel Dardar and Tim Smith voted in favor of the ordinance, while Dennis Hudson cast the dissenting vote.

The enforcement period would be from of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday in school zones, Mickey E. Shepherd of Optotraffic told the council.

Getting state permission to place one of the devices in the zones at the elementary and secondary schools could take two months or more, and the town would have to post signs warning motorists 30 days before it begins operating them, he said.

Tickets have to be signed off on by a representative of the police department before they are issued to the violators, Shepherd said. His company reviews the photographic evidence to ensure that the license plate and other information about the vehicle is legible, he said.

The goal is to cut down on speeding, according to Shepherd.

There would be no upfront costs to the town, with Optotraffic receiving a portion of the revenues generated by speeding tickets, he said in January.

"We've got a major PR problem here," Hudson said. "Locals are going to get tickets, and they are going to come down on us."  

Residents could think the town is using the devices raise money, Hudson said.

Smith said the police department could have the option of giving warnings to first-time offenders. Dardar said the safety of children should be the primary consideration.

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