Board gives cops green light on speed cams

Prince Frederick, MD – Stressing the initiative was for safety, not enhanced revenue, the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office has received support from the board of county commissioners to begin the process to install speed cameras in several school zones.

Discussion of the proposal took place at the Tuesday, March 3 meeting of the Calvert County Commissioners. According to memo from Assistant Sheriff Major Dave McDowell, the board requested a report on the feasibility of implementing speed cameras in school zones earlier this year.

McDowell, along with Sheriff Mike Evans [R] and Lt. David Payne of the Twin Beaches Patrol delivered the March 3 presentation.

A Maryland law governs the criteria for “photographic speed enforcement in school zones.” Passage of a local ordinance is required.  While utilization of the cameras may begin on county roads upon passage of the ordinance, a six-month study would be required to implement the use on state roads.

The law would allow for speed cameras to be placed within a one-mile radius of a school, operate them Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. year ‘round, give local authorities permission to levy a civil penalty no higher than $40, with system oversight by an administrator and citations reviewed by local police.

Payne noted that the county’s portion of the revenues from the fines (62 percent ) would have to be utilized for public safety.  The revenue is projected to decline as local motorists become acclimated to the presence of the speed camera.

Payne stated that data also shows average reductions in accidents (42 percent), fatalities (90 percent) and injuries (41 percent) in school zones due to the looming presence of the speed cameras.

Commissioner Tom Hejl [R - At Large] conceded that some skeptics would regard the cameras as “a money maker” but statistics show the system “protects our kids.”

“There’s evidence it saves lives,” said Commissioner Mike Hart [R - District 1]. “I think there’s a reason we’re seeing it across the state.”

A speed camera is currently being utilized on Route 261 in front of Beach Elementary School (BES) in the municipality of Chesapeake Beach. The camera was activated in 2012. In that time nearly 7,400 citations have been mailed with over 90 percent paid. Payne noted that the revenue peaked in 2013, the first full year of the speed camera’s implementation, at just over $86,000. The projected total for 2015 is $25,000.

Of Calvert County’s 23 public schools, 13 are located on county roads, with two being in the same location. The elementary schools on county roads are Barstow, Huntingtown, Mount Harmony, Mutual, Patuxent, Sunderland and Windy Hill. The middle schools on county roads are Calvert, Mill Creek, Northern and Windy Hill.

Two high schools—Northern and Patuxent—are on county roads.

Evans stated that he thought only “thru roads” would be the best locations for cameras. Placing a camera at Barstow Elementary on Williams Road, a route that ends at a cul de sac, would give the appearance law enforcement was picking on the residents.

As the commissioners voted unanimously to support the initiative going forward, County Attorney John Norris noted there would need to be a public hearing before the ordinance could be approved.

Contact Marty Madden at

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