The Hyattsville City Council will consider emergency legislation tonight which would, on paper, double the number of speed cameras the city police department could operate.
The last minute change would, if adopted by the city council tonight, go into effect only hours before March 19, the date when Hyattsville's new network of five speed cameras are set to begin issuing fines to speeding drivers following a monthlong period where the cameras issued only warnings.
The emergency legislation is needed because of recent interpretations of the laws governing speed cameras in Maryland have emphasized that each individual speed camera needs to be authorized by legislation, according to Hyattsville Chief of Police Doug Holland.
Essentially, the law requires that local governments explicitly state a maximum number of speed cameras which their law enforcement agencies can operate. Currently, Hyattsville's speed camera legislation does not provide this number, and any tickets issued under the current writing of the law could potentially be challenged in court as unauthorized.
By asking for "no more than 10" cameras, the revised legislation gives the city police legal authority to operate the five cameras they have now while also giving the police department the legal leeway to double the size of the program.
"This does not necessarily imply that the City intends to deploy ten systems," wrote Holland in a memo outlining the need for the rewording of the city's speed camera law. "It merely provides a maximum number so that the ordinance does not have to be amended each time a new camera is deployed"
The city council will take up the matter at its meeting tonight at 8 p.m. in the Hyattsville Municipal Building at 4310 Gallatin Street. The meeting will be broadcast live on Comcast channel 71 and Verizon channel 12.