Frederick delays red-light camera extension

Frederick officials have put the brakes on renewing a contract for red-light cameras in the city.

After a lengthy discussion Thursday night, the Board of Aldermen delayed a vote on the proposed five-year contract that had been negotiated between the police department and American Traffic Solutions, the private company that provides the cameras.

“I understand this is a public safety issue, and I support that,” Alderwoman Carol Krimm said. “This is about the contract.”

Along with alderwomen Shelley Aloi and Karen Young, Krimm was concerned that the contract was negotiated without seeking bids from other companies.

“In my opinion, we have not followed standard city of Frederick purchasing processes,” Aloi said. “When there’s competition, there will typically be other negotiations of prices and fees.”

Opening up the service to competitive bidding could have led to a better deal for the city, they said.

Under the current agreement, the city gets $44 of each $75 citation issued from any of the seven red-light camera intersections. The rest goes to the company, which installs and monitors the equipment.

The new agreement called for the city to get a $33 cut from each ticket issued at locations with upgraded cameras.

The increased share to the company was to install newer technology at the current locations and for plans to install more cameras in the city, Frederick police Lt. Jason Keckler said.

Keckler, commander of the department’s community services division, said officers review images captured from the cameras before a ticket is issued.

The program has been a success since the first cameras were installed in 2005, he said.

The number of tickets written has continued to drop, Keckler wrote in an email Friday. The city issued about 7,300 tickets in 2008, he said. This year, the city is on pace to see that number drop to about 5,350. About 2,600 tickets have been issued so far this year.

Accidents are also down at the intersections, according to Keckler. In 2006, there were 44 accidents at the intersections with cameras. The number dropped to 18 in 2011 — a 59 percent decrease.

“The data indicates the red light camera is having a tangible impact on changing driver behavior, which leads to our goal of increasing safety on our roadways,” Keckler wrote.

Thursday’s decision was to bring the contract back to the board for a workshop discussion before it comes back up for a vote. No date for further talks has been set.

Alderman Michael O’Connor and Alderwoman Kelly Russell were against delaying the vote.

“I was prepared to vote for it,” Russell, a retired police lieutenant, said Thursday night. “I think it’s a fine contract.”

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