Anne Arundel County government hasn't supported the installation of speed cameras, but beginning Friday one slice of the county will have them anyway.
Annapolis is set to launch its own enforcement program, even while state legislators consider overhauling Maryland's speed camera law in the wake of troubles with the Baltimore program.
The Annapolis program, approved by the City Council in November 2011, allows for three speed cameras that, by law, must operate within school zones.
"When you talk about speed cameras, it smacks of Big Brother," Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen said. Butspeeding, especially around schools, has been one of the most common complaints that he said he's heard.
"When it comes to the safety of one's child, parents don't have a higher priority than all that. Annapolis is a municipality, and a lot of students walk to city schools," Cohen said.
Two mobile speed cameras placed in Ford vehicles will make the rounds, circulating among nearly every school in the city in the coming weeks. A third camera will be stationary, on Duke of Gloucester Street near the St. Mary's schools, according to Annapolis Police Maj. Scott Baker.
Driving 12 mph or more over the speed limit will prompt a $40 citation in the mail for the vehicle's owner, although only warnings will be issued during the first month.
A contractor, RedSpeed Maryland LLC, will operate the cameras, but police will review photos taken before a citation is mailed. The cameras will operate between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays. Annapolis will pay RedSpeed $13 per paid citation, and the program is expected to generate $200,000 for the city in its first year. The contract with RedSpeed runs through July 31, 2015.
Anne Arundel County government has approved the use of red-light cameras, but not speed cameras. They were not supported by the administration of John R. Leopold, the former county executive who resigned this month after being found guilty of misconduct in office.
New County Executive Laura Neuman, who was sworn in as his successor last Friday, said this week that she has not held the position long enough to consider whether the county should pursue speed cameras in the future.
According to the Maryland Municipal League, speed cameras are in use in more than 20 jurisdictions in Maryland, from Baltimore City to municipalities as small as Hancock, which, according to Census data, had a population of 1,553 in 2011.
The Annapolis program launches as some lawmakers seek to revamp or repeal Maryland's 2009 speed camera law. The Sun has reported that several Baltimore City cameras issued $40 tickets to motorists in error, and several Maryland jurisdictions do not provide necessary information to challenge tickets. In addition, questions have arisen about potential "bounty systems" for paying companies according to how many citations are issued.
"If you are a citizen who is concerned about your children walking to school, and you want people to slow down, you like these things because they are effective at getting people to slow down," said James Peck, research director at Maryland Municipal League. "But if you don't like these things, you say that they are just moneymakers."
Annapolis officials say they are keeping an eye on the session, and Baker said, "when it all shakes out at the end of the legislature, we will figure out where we need to go from there. If we have to restructure the contract, we will restructure the contract."