Hyattsville Approves Speed Cameras
Automated cameras will soon snap shots of speeding motorists, but City Council delays decision on how many people to hire to run the program.
The Hyattsville City Council last night unanimously approved a proposal to place four portable speed cameras, run by the city police department, at up to 10 different locations within the city.
But confusion over the level of staffing needed to run the program forced the City Council to hold off on a decision to hire one or more new police employees to oversee the speed camera program. The City Council is expected to tackle the hiring decision next week.
In a memo sent to the City Council, Hyattsville Police Chief and Acting City Administrator Doug Holland recommended that the council authorize the hiring of a new Sergeant rank police officer to both manage the speed camera program and the police department's technology initiatives.
Councilor Tim Hunt (Ward 3) was concerned that the staffing needs of the speed camera program, which includes equipment calibration and trips to court, could overwhelm a single officer in charge of the operation the speed cameras as well as the other police tech duties called for. Hunt proposed the amendment stripping the measure of language which would have authorized the hiring of a new police sergeant to manage the speed camera program.
Hunt's concerns were echoed by Mayor Marc Tartaro.
"My concern here is what do you do in years one and two if basically the sergeant who is now being charged with maintaining the tech for 60 of your staff is also having to go to court and do all these other things?" Tartaro asked.
Holland's memo, in response to feedback from City Council, also describes three other two-person staffing solutions which could satisfy the needs of the speed camera program. But the cost of these mutli-person staffing solutions bloat the cost of the speed camera program. Projections provided by Holland show that, after five years, the two-person solutions would cost about $377,900 more than the recommended single sergeant approach.
The cameras will be located on the westbound 3300 block of East West Highway, the northbound 5900 block of Ager Road, the westbound 3700 block of East West Highway and the southbound 7000 block of Adelphi Road.
The measure also approves six additional secondary sites for the portable camera units to be located; the northbound 4900 block of Rhode Island Avenue, the eastbound 3300 block of East West Highway, the southbound 5800 block of Baltimore Avenue, the northbound 5900 block of Ager Road and the northbound 5400 block of Baltimore Avenue.
The city projects that each camera will issue an average of 50 tickets per day in the first year the program goes live. At $40 a ticket, that translates into roughly $2 million in fines issued by the city in the first year of the program. That income is expected to slump significantly in the second year of the program as local motorists become more wise to the camera's and their locations.
Before the camera goes live, the city must get the blessing of the Maryland State Highway Administration as well as county officials.