First there was the infamous speed camera ticket that Baltimore issued to a car stopped at a red light.
Now comes evidence that the city's former contractor approved a speeding citation for another vehicle that couldn't possibly have been going too fast — because it was parked.
"Things like this will kill the program!" Baltimore police Sgt. Paul McMillian told officials with the city and Brekford Corp., the former contractor, in an April 13 email obtained by The Baltimore Sun.
McMillian said that "the blue pickup truck is clearly parked against the curb lane," yet Brekford approved the speed camera ticket and forwarded it to the Police Department for review. "The citation was disaproved of course," McMillian added.
"Thank you for letting us know, Sergeant," replied Jamie McDonald, the city Department of Transportation official who led the team overseeing the city's now-defunct speed and red-light camera program. "You are right, we can't afford to have ANY of these."
Earlier, the city did have at least one, and it was a big embarrassment. In December 2012, The Sun reported that Brekford's predecessor, Xerox State and Local Solutions, cited a car for speeding as it idled motionless at a red light on East Cold Spring Lane.
The motorist appealed and a judge threw out the ticket. The owner of the parked pickup never got the ticket mentioned in the April 13 emails, thanks to McMillian's police review team.
Days later, the city announced that it was suspending the troubled automated enforcement program, after less than two months of operation under Brekford. Officials noted a wrongly programmed camera on The Alameda and an incorrect payment mailing address listed on citations.
But the city made no mention, then or since, that a parked truck nearly got a speeding ticket.
Brekford CEO C.B. Brechin did not respond to emails asking about that near-citation. Transportation and police officials did not provide further details about the episode.
Last summer, after the city stopped issuing camera tickets, problems persisted during months of testing aimed at fixing and restarting the city's camera system under Brekford, according to documents obtained last month by The Sun under the Public Information Act. Among the problems were defective radar, incorrect citation numbers and high error rates.
The city and Brekford parted ways last month. The city agreed to pay the Anne Arundel County firm $600,000. The city is also paying it $2.2 million for 72 speed cameras that city officials acknowledge probably won't be used to enforce traffic laws because Brekford retains data and components needed to operate the devices.
Meanwhile, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has said the city plans to search for its third contractor.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun