For example, McMahon noted, a police car costs about $40,000, half of which is just costs accrued from technologies built into vehicle. Those costs include $4,200 for the police radio, $1,700 for the flashing lights and siren and $600 for the recently added electronic ticketing system.

McMahon also discussed other expensive but effective crime fighting tools, such as license plate readers — Howard County police have eight deployed at a total cost of $144,000 — and finger print identification devices — police have 31 deployed for a total cost of $46,500.

"This is solving crimes every single day in your community, but it's not cheap," he said.

McMahon and the panelists also talked about the more controversial technologies, such as speed cameras and red light cameras.


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"The detractors will point to revenue generators, but it really is about traffic safety," McMahon said

Queen Anne's CountyCommissioner Philip Dumenil, a Republican, said it's difficult for counties struggling to balance their budgets during the economic recession to keep up with the constantly changing technologies.

Though Dumenil said "the jury's still out" in his county on whether they should use speed cameras and red light cameras, he understands the cameras do more than raise revenues.

"That's an officer that doesn't have to be at that school zone, doesn't have to be at that red light," he said.

Don Murphy, a former Republican state delegate who represented Howard and Baltimore counties, said he voted in favor of red light cameras when he was in the legislature, so he also attended the presentation to see "how that technology is working for the benefit of Howard County."

Regarding the session overall, Murphy said: "I thought it was very informative and it's very helpful for elected officials. It's important for newly elected officials to learn from their colleagues."