A car going 56 mph would travel 41 feet in half a second. But time-stamped photos taken by the camera — and offered by the city as evidence that the car was speeding — show it covered just under 23 feet, based on measurements taken by The Sun using clear pavement markings. That translates to a speed of 31 mph, meaning no citation was warranted.

Under state law, speed camera citations can be issued only when a vehicle exceeds the speed limit by at least 12 mph. Signs indicate the speed limit there is 30 mph.

A spokesman for Xerox referred questions about the Subaru to city officials.

Barnes said both cameras on Cold Spring remain operational, with Xerox "prescreening every potential citation," including a review of the cameras' photos and video to make sure the measured speeds are accurate. "This additional measure should eliminate erroneous tickets issued at these locations," she said.

It's not clear how the enhanced screening differs from what the city and its contractor already do as part of the usual process of issuing speed camera tickets. After a motorist is photographed, standard procedures call for company employees to check all potential citations before sending those deemed valid to the Police Department. Police officers must then validate any citation before it can be mailed to a vehicle owner.

Barnes did not respond to a follow-up question seeking more detail on the prescreening.

Earlier this month, Xerox spokesman Chris Gilligan said the company had already "added in an extra quality-control step" for Cold Spring citations to help catch anomalies involving trucks. He said the problem appeared to be caused by "radar effects, most likely reflection off the large metallic surfaces of these vehicles."

On Friday, a task force appointed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to review the city's red light and speed camera programs will have its third meeting. The mayor formed the group in September to "assure that these programs continue to effectively promote traffic and pedestrian safety, especially near school zones."

The group has eight members, half of them city employees, and it meets in a Department of Transportation conference room.

The task force was originally chaired by Jamie Kendrick, who before leaving his position as a deputy transportation director hailed the speed camera program as "pretty darn" effective and well-operated. Zektick now leads the group.

Asked last week about the task force, Rawlings-Blake said "it's not a grand jury."

"This is transportation safety," the mayor said. "We're talking about professionals. I trust them and depend on them to bring their professional talents to the table to advise."

The Sun's investigation of the city's speed camera also found that city judges routinely toss out tickets and that the city has long ignored the state's narrow definition of a "school zone." The department turned off five cameras in August after being challenged about its compliance with state law.

In addition, The Sun found that citations do not inform motorists that there may be video evidence that could exonerate them in court.



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