Managers from Baltimore's former speed camera vendor Xerox State & Local Solutions defended their actions Wednesday before a City Council committee investigating what went wrong with the city's system, which has been shut down for more than a year after issuing erroneous tickets.
Senior Vice President Allen Shutt acknowledged some of his company's employees got "a little sloppy" in how they approved tickets in 2012, but he said Baltimore's Police Department shared responsibility for issuing bogus tickets.
"This is critically important: Only a law enforcement officer can issue a citation," Shutt said. "No citation can be issued without police approval."
Wednesday marked the third day of testimony in the City Council's investigation into what went wrong, whether any crimes were committed, and what could be improved should Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake choose to resurrect the program. The speed camera program, which was touted as a way to keep children safe in school zones, brought in nearly $20 million a year to city government before it was suspended.
"We want to restart the program," said City Councilman James B. Kraft, who is leading the council's investigation. "We do not want to repeat the errors of the past."
The city's speed camera system, which was run for years by Xerox and briefly by Brekford Corp., was shut down in April 2013 after repeatedly issuing erroneous tickets. An investigation by The Baltimore Sun found errors by many cameras, including tickets issued for slow-moving or stopped cars. A leaked audit of the Xerox system later showed the errors were even more widespread than the city had disclosed, with some cameras having error rates of more than 10 percent. Tests of Brekford's system also disclosed widespread problems.
At Wednesday's hearing, Shutt and Brekford CEO C.B. Brechin gave their accounts of a contentious period for the program — in January 2013, when Brekford officials said they couldn't operate the city's cameras because Xerox had taken its software from the cameras, rendering them inoperable. Xerox maintained its software was proprietary.
Shutt said the contract "did not give the city rights, after the end of the contract, to continue using Xerox's proprietary software." He said Baltimore's contract with Xerox had "no provisions regarding transition, and accordingly, Xerox had no duties at all to assist with the transition here." He said the company, nevertheless, attempted "to assist with the transition to a new vendor."
Brechin disagreed with that assessment. "There was no transition," he said flatly.