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Commissioners approve speed cam fund requests

Calvert County Commissioners
Prince Frederick, MD - Pending a public hearing on a budget adjustment, the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office have an OK from the Calvert County Commissioners to use a portion of revenues from speed cameras to purchase some priority items. The request for using revenues to purchase stationary license plate readers and 63 body-worn cameras was presented to the commissioners Tuesday, May 16 during their weekly meeting.

During the summer of 2015, the commissioners established Calvert’s “Safety for Students Program (SSP), an effort to reduce speeding violations during specific hours in designated school zones. “Electronic speed monitoring cameras are strategically placed in school zones to capture speeding violations,” stated Assistant Sheriff Dave McDowell (recently promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel) in a memo to the commissioners. “Violators receive citations through the mail.”

Maryland’s Annotated Code mandates that “revenues collected through the SSP are solely allocated to public safety.”

Calvert’s SSP cameras began operation this past fall.

According to McDowell, Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans [R] identified the stationary license plate readers (LPRs) and body-worn cameras as priorities. The LPRs will be placed on the overpass at Routes 260 and Route 4 at the Calvert-Anne Arundel border.

“As the majority of bank robberies and armed robberies of businesses have historically occurred in Northern Calvert, the LPRs will effectively capture license plate information of all vehicles entering and exiting via routes 260 and 4,” McDowell stated. The cost of the LPRs, including annual maintenance, is $215,047. The LPR purchase is part of the current fiscal year (FY) budget (FY 2017) and will require a public hearing for a budget adjustment.

“We should have had these years ago,” declared Commissioner Mike Hart [R – District 1], who added he would like to see the LPRs located in other entrance/exit points in the county.

Commissioner Pat Nutter [R – District 2] seemed a little less enthusiastic. “I get a little chill that everybody’s watching,” he stated. McDowell assured Nutter that the data from LPRs would only be reviewed when there is an incident involving someone fleeing a crime scene by way of vehicle. “The hope is it becomes more of a deterrent than anything else,” said McDowell.

The body-worn cameras are seen as a way to support the agency’s affirmation that deputies on patrol perform their jobs legally and ethically. “We have nothing to hide,” said McDowell. The body cameras and maintenance costs total $99,981. The request is part of the FY 2018 budget, which will be the subject of a public hearing May 23. Also in the proposed FY 2018 budget is $102,802 of the SSP revenues for the automated enforcement program administrator.

Commissioners Vice President Evan K. Slaughenhoupt Jr. [R - District 3] expressed some concern upon learning that Calvert County Government’s Department of Public Safety was not consulted about the proposed SSP revenue allocations. In his motion to approve the requests made by the sheriff’s office, Slaughenhoupt asked that it be understood that the Department of Public Safety be part of the discussions going forward. “This is not just a sheriff’s initiative,” said Slaughenhoupt.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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