October 30, 2014 9:27 pm ET
Possibly 12,000 speed camera citations in question—officer’s status at heart of issue
Source: Speeding Past the Rap
OK, folks, riddle me this: When is a speed camera citation not valid? Answer: When a police officer isn’t really a police officer.
Sound confusing? You bet. Now, here is the proverbial rest of the story.
A Baltimore County Police Officer (whose name is being withheld due to privacy concerns) may be at the heart of an issue that could impact as many as 12,000 speed camera citations.
The officer in question was unable to attend and complete his yearly gun range qualifications due to an injury. Not a big deal, you say? Actually, it is a very big deal according to departmental regulations, which state that the officer’s police powers have to be suspended without the firearm qualification.
Which leads us to the next part of the story.
The officer was placed on light duty, so he was assigned to the section that handles speed camera violations. That means that the officer reviewed the information and approved around 12,000 citations.
And that is where things get very complicated.
You see, under MD Motor Vehicle law 21-809 (d) (vii), it states the following:
(viii) A signed statement by a duly authorized law enforcement officer employed by or under contract with an agency that, based on inspection of recorded images, the motor vehicle was being operated in violation of this subtitle;
In this case, the officer’s suspension of his police powers does not satisfy the definition of the law. That means that those 12,000 citations are invalid.
Good news for the drivers who were caught, but bad news for the department and the revenue expected from the citations.
Just to make sure that all of my facts were straight, I spoke to police union reps; they verified the information.
So, say goodbye to almost a half a million dollars in speed camera revenue.
Now let me make this clear—the officer in question did nothing wrong. The responsibility of this matter lies at the command level and, according to union reps, the management/commanders are well aware of the law.
Union reps felt that due to heavy workload on upper management, the issue may have fallen through the cracks.
And $480,000 leaves a mighty large crack when it falls, let me tell you.
Additionally, I received a phone call and was told that police spokeswoman Elise Armacost spoke to WBAL’s “I-Team” reporter David Collins about the issue. Ms. Armacost stated that the officer in question was on “modified duty.”
That’s a new one to me. From my experience, an officer can be on light duty as a result of a variety of issues, but he still must qualify at the range every year in order to maintain his police powers.
In regard to getting more information on this story, I have attempted to contact the Traffic Section at least three times, including leaving recorded phone messages. Thus far, no one has returned my calls.
There’s an old saying about silence speaking a thousand words…
I also sent an e-mail to Ms. Armacost regarding the matter, but again I have received no response. This is not the only time Ms. Armacost has failed to respond to my e-mails regarding very important matters such as this, but I will digress on that.
It seems that the Baltimore County Police administration is becoming akin to the White House on the issue of transparency. Simply put, if there was nothing amiss, then why not just pick up the phone and tell me. I know the people on the other end of that phone, as I used to work there.
Instead, I had to speak to insiders and union reps to get the information for this blog. So much for transparency.
The department is free to challenge the validity of this information, and I will print any such rebuttal without edits. But I wouldn’t go holding your breath for that rebuttal.
While it would be much easier if the department just told the truth, we need to understand that, in today’s government, “truth” is a word that no longer seems to exist.
I believe in my sources, so I believe that this information is true. From here, it will be the way that the department handles this issue moving forward that will count, and not the silence or attempt at a cover-up, which already seems to be in motion.
Someone needs to come clean, so let’s hope that there is plenty of soap at headquarters—at least $480,000 worth.