The cameras are on Addison Road at L Street and on Sheriff Road at Balsamtree Drive in the town of Fairmount Heights. According to two independent checks, both cameras are within a half-mile of Fairmount Heights High School, which is in compliance with Maryland law.
However, according to Prince George’s, the town didn’t get permission from the county — which also is required under the law.
Susan Hubbard of the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works says a letter will be sent to Fairmount Heights telling officials to deactivate and remove the cameras immediately.
Under the law, a municipal corporation must submit “to the county a plan describing the boundary of the applicable school zone and the proposed location of the speed monitoring system.” Hubbard says the plan must also demonstrate how the camera would enhance traffic safety.
But Fairmount Heights allegedly didn’t do those things. Mayor Lillie Thompson-Martin tells WTOP that she thought their vendor, Brekford Corp., filed the appropriate paperwork.
“We are investigating this and we have our attorney trying to iron out the details and we hope to get the issue rectified,” she says.
Thompson-Martin also tells WTOP that the two cameras have been shut off. But as of late Thursday night, the cameras remained in place.
Hubbard says the Department of Public Works maintains both roads, and thus the cameras must be removed until further notice.
“We’re in the process of gathering information, getting together with Brekford, and then we will get in touch with Ms. Hubbard. We intend to get this all straightened out,” says Thompson-Martin.
Town Attorney Jason DeLoach didn’t return calls for comment on whether Fairmount Heights will void speed camera tickets issued from the cameras.
Thompson-Martin says that decision is ultimately up to a judge, although she referred all legal questions to DeLoach.
One defense attorney tells WTOP that a judge would likely throw out the camera tickets, due to the legal questions surrounding the program.
Other municipalities — including Hyattsville, Bowie and Capitol Heights — have a memorandum of understanding with Prince George’s County. Each submitted a traffic management plan, which the Department of Public Works and Prince George’s County police approved.
Takoma Park, Gaithersburg, Rockville and Chevy Chase all operate their own programs within Montgomery County. Police Capt. Thomas Didone, who oversees the camera program in Montgomery County, tells WTOP that each have worked in unison with the vendor and the county to comply with Maryland law.