LANDOVER, Md. — The Prince George’s County Police Department is beginning a pilot program to test laser-based speed camera guns with tablet computers that allow officers to catch and ticket speeders in real-time without pulling them over.
Police unveiled the new speed camera guns at a news conference on Friday. Unlike the traditional box cameras or the cameras attached to poles in Prince George’s County, these cameras would require an officer to point and shoot like old radar guns. But unlike radar guns, these new laser systems are attached to a tablet that generates the violation in real-time. Officers would not be required to pull anyone over, but rather they would simply confirm or reject the ticket on the tablet.
Maj. Robert V. Liberati says that even though officers will need to point and shoot, it will still give police more flexibility than the current cameras. Liberati runs the speed and red-light camera program in Prince George’s County.
“What it does do is that it gives us the ability to go to several different locations in a day, which the boxes and trailer cameras don’t allow us to do,” he says.
“This gives us some new technology that we can deploy especially in areas (like) smaller residential streets where we can’t put a box or trailer in someone’s front yard,” adds Liberati.
During a demonstration on Friday, officers showed reporters how the laser camera, called a DragonCam, catches a speeding vehicle and pops an image onto the tablet with the license plate.
John Townsend, AAA Mid-Atlantic Manager of Government and Public Affairs, says the cameras are a good step forward. He applauds the fact that it brings uniformed officers in patrol cars back into the process.
“These cameras give the county more flexibility and dexterity in combating dangerous speeding. This puts officers back into the beat and back into traffic safety, which is very important,” says Townsend.
“The fact of the matter is that 30,000 persons are killed each year in this country in traffic accidents. That’s unacceptable. That’s more than the number of people murdered in the country each year. Why shouldn’t that be a top police law enforcement priority?”
Two new DragonCam laser-based speed camera guns will be tested in the pilot program. After a warning period, live tickets will be handed out to motorists.
Under Maryland law, drivers traveling 12 mph or greater than the post speed limit can receive a $40 ticket from speed cameras. School zone speed cameras operate Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.