ABC7 WATCHDOG

Morningside speed camera may be breaking the law

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PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. (WJLA) - Speed cameras work.

Hundreds of cars slow down for the photo trap in Morningside in Prince George’s County. Resident Patrick Davis, Jr. says that's a good thing.

“It’s convenient knowing people aren't going to be speeding here,” Davis says. “I have a young son.”

Speed cameras also make money. Morningside, a town of about 2,000, reported to the state that its cameras collected nearly $500,000 for the fiscal year which ended in June.

But there are allegations that the system itself, like the speeders it tickets, may be breaking the law.

Under Maryland law, cameras can only be operated in school zones established by the entity which owns the road. In this case, that entity is Prince George’s County.

The county never designated a school zone. In fact, according to documents obtained by ABC7, when Morningside wrote the county in 2011 saying they were going to "move forward with our program," the county replied in writing two months later saying permission "cannot be approved."

Ron Ely, of the group Maryland Drivers Alliance, is also now suing Morningside for release of documents that prove the cameras are being properly calibrated and set up each day.

So far the town has denied his requests.

“One would assume that if everything were in order they would produce documents,” Ely says.

In the meantime, the cameras continue to operate, catching speeders and their cash.

“As a driver, I understand that's safety is always an issue but to me it seems like a revenue grab,” says one motorist.

If you have an issue that needs investigating, send information to watchdogtips@wjla.com.

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