Could all of Prince George’s County’s speed cameras be going dark next week?

Prince George’s County, Maryland, has dozens of school zones and residential areas that are authorized for speed cameras, and even if cameras aren’t always active in those corridors, you never know when they could be, which is why it’s always a risk to speed through them. Starting next week, that could change.

During a briefing before the Prince George’s County Council, the head of the county’s automated enforcement division said a changing of vendors that operate the program means there could be a gap that stretches for weeks or months.

For years, the county’s speed cameras have been run by a company called Conduent, and by 2022, when cameras were authorized not just in school zones but also in residential areas, it was clear to the county that it wasn’t going well.

“We started to determine that they were not going to be able to handle residential speed enforcement, for a variety of factors,” admitted Capt. Jason Smith, who oversees automated enforcement programs. The company also had problems operating cameras on Maryland Route 210.

By mid-2022, he said finding a new vendor became a priority. It just took those in charge of contract procurements a long time to do that.

In fact, it wasn’t until last month that the county was able to sign a deal with a new company called Jenoptik. And while Conduent’s contract expires this weekend, Jenoptik can’t just come in and flip on new cameras.

“Unfortunately, we are anticipating there to be a gap,” said Smith. “We’re hoping to keep it within 90 days. We’re hoping within 90 days of January 18 we’ll have new cameras out and we’ll have coverage back.”

But Smith also said a variety of factors could extend or reduce that looming gap.

“We have to put them in touch with our court representatives and with the [Motor Vehicle Administration] and et cetera,” he added. “They’re professionals. They’ve done this before. But that’s going to be the thing that holds us up. It’s not a matter of equipment.

“They’ve assured us they can have 50 new cameras available for us to deploy within a few months. But what’s likely to happen is we’ll have the cameras but not the support infrastructure in place.”

Another pothole that’s also above the county police department’s purview is a challenge to the new contract happening right now.

Barry Stanton, who oversees public safety in the county tried not to get into too many details, but after getting asked about it by members of the council who were wondering why a local company was rejected, he admitted that a locally-based vendor that wasn’t awarded the contract is protesting the process. Jenoptik is not a local company.

“Until the protest is resolved, we want to make sure that we’re careful,” said Stanton. “I feel very comfortable with where we are on the contract right now. I feel there was a clear process on how we got to that particular point.”

Municipalities in the county have their own agreements, and their cameras will continue to operate even if there’s a gap in the county’s program. And county leaders are racing to figure out how to avoid a long gap without any speed camera enforcement.

There’s no finalized plan yet, but one idea being considered is paying Conduent to continue to operate speed cameras on a temporary basis. It’s also possible Jenoptik is cleared to start operating its cameras sooner than anticipated, though there’s less optimism that will happen.

In the meantime, don’t be surprised if patrol officers run radar in some areas too, and a ticket from them would come with not just a fine, but also points on your license. A lot of the camera infrastructure will remain up, which will make it hard for drivers to know if a camera is really operating or not unless they’re willing to find out the hard way.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up