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Good call on speed cameras

May 19, 2013

In theory, Americans have the fundamental right to confront their accuser. But what if the accuser is an inanimate camera lens? It is difficult to cross-examine a photograph.

As a community, we have generally decided that speed cameras have value, particularly in school zones where all else has failed. The wellbeing of our children tops all. And if speed cameras slow down the flow of traffic and make them safer, they have our support.

Of course there are a whole lot of issues involving speed cameras that transcend safety, the most obvious being revenue. The City of Hagerstown received a $1 million windfall from the mechanical tickets over the past year, a rather staggering sum.

And whenever there is that much money swirling around, there is the potential for abuse. Our support for speed cameras would be sorely tested if it turned out that they were being administrated in a sloppy fashion.

That’s why we applaud the Hagerstown Police Department’s decision to publicly and transparently blow the whistle on speed cameras that had not been properly certified, leading the company that monitors the machines to refund $27,100 worth of speeding tickets.

We also appreciate District Judge Mark D. Thomas for throwing out tickets from the camera, located in the 700 block of Northern Avenue, which had not been independently recertified in the past year, as required by law.

This doesn’t, however, strengthen our confidence in Brekford Corp., a Hanover, Md., company that administers the cameras and gets a rich share of the loot.

This might be a signal to the city to shop around the next time the speed-camera contract is up.

There is no room for error, especially when the “word” of the camera cannot be called into question by accused speeders who believe they have been wronged.

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