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Spector calls for city speed, red light camera money to go to school crossing guards

Baltimore City Council member Rochelle "Rikki" Spector is calling on the Rawlings-Blake administration to use revenue from the planned revival of the city's speed and red light camera system for school crossing guards. 

"The cameras are supposed to be for safety around schools," Spector said. "What could be a better use of the funds?"

Spector, the longest-serving member of the council who is retiring this year, introduced a resolution Monday, calling for a hearing about her proposal. 

"Crossing guards are our children's first -- and often only -- line of defense against the dangers they may encounter moving between the safer and more controlled environments of school and home," the resolution states. "Unfortunately, at current funding levels, there simply are not enough of them to provide all of the protection that parents need and deserve for their children."

Batimore transportation officials last month announced plans to revive the city's defunct red light and speed camera system.

Officials issued a request for bids or 10 red light cameras, 10 fixed speed cameras and 10 portable systems. City Transportation Director William Johnson said the new program will include multiple safeguards to ensure the integrity of the tickets issued.

This will be the city's third program after two failed attempts in which motorists received tickets in error. The system, which was run for years by Xerox State & Local Solutions and briefly by Brekford Corp., was shut down in April 2013.

At its height, the city's speed camera system brought in nearly $20 million a year. But the system was dogged by questions about its accuracy after a Baltimore Sun investigation revealed numerous problems, including tickets issued to stopped or slow-moving cars. 

According to Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration data, no pedestrians were injured by vehicles in city school zones in 2012 or 2013. In 2012, Baltimore had 83 speed cameras monitoring motorists and generating millions of dollars in revenue. In 2013, Baltimore's speed cameras were turned off for all but about three weeks. They have not been turned on since.

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