"All City agencies, including DPW, are absolutely committed to driver safety," Kocher said, when asked why his agency rolled up more tickets than any other, including the Police Department with its 3,000 sworn officers.

Kocher noted that Public Works has the city government's largest fleet with more than 990 vehicles, translating to less than one ticket per vehicle every two years. "The city's policy holds all employees accountable for paying for the tickets," he said, "and there is a personnel process in place to discipline employees who repeatedly speed."

Nevertheless, experts who study speed cameras say agencies need to emphasize that their employees should not be speeding with any frequency.

"That certainly doesn't sound good," said Roy E. Lucke, the director of Highway and Transportation Safety Programs at the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, who is generally supportive of the cameras. "I hope they're serious about tracking back the vehicle to who is driving it and making them personally responsible."

City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, who said she too has received speed camera tickets, said she'd like to see increased training and education in city agencies.

"We shouldn't be among the largest offenders of trying to keep our children and elderly safe," she said.

Clarke introduced legislation Monday requiring school bus companies to report citations to the city. Last month, The Sun published findings that hundreds of privately owned buses have received speed camera tickets in the city.

"I'm concerned some of our bus drivers aren't safe drivers and they're driving our children," she said.

The Sun's investigation found numerous problems with the city's speed camera system, including that officials continued to operate a camera on Cold Spring Lane months after learning it had issued an incorrect speed reading. The Sun also showed that city judges routinely toss out tickets for deficiencies and that the city has long ignored the state's narrow definition of a "school zone," in which most cameras are supposed to be placed. Baltimore also has implemented what a top Maryland judge called a "bounty system," which rewards speed camera vendors with a cut of each fine the system issues.

After The Sun published the results of its investigation, City Councilman Brandon Scott called for a hearing about the cameras' accuracy and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she would not tolerate a single erroneous ticket under her administration.

Rawlings-Blake has also convened a task force to study the city's automated traffic enforcement devices.

luke.broadwater@baltsun.com

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