Hyattsville officials consider installing speed cameras
Approval of proposed ordinance would be first step
Speed cameras could come to Hyattsville later this year if city officials approve a proposed ordinance to amend traffic laws and create school zones.
City police often receive complaints about speeding, but don't always have the resources to respond, according to Hyattsville Police Chief Douglas Holland.
Under Maryland law, the cameras which photograph the license plates of drivers traveling 12 mph or more over the posted limits so citations can be mailed to them can only be placed in designated zones surrounding schools, Holland said during a presentation Feb. 7 to the City Council.
One of the first steps of the implementation process will be to amend several portions of the city code to create these zones in a half-mile radius around the city's nine schools as well as the University of Maryland, College Park, and the Prince George's Community College campus at University Town Center, Holland said.
"This does not meant that there is an intent to put speed cameras ... [at] each of these schools," Holland said.
The proposed school zones would cover "a vast majority of the city of Hyattsville," Holland said.
Full implementation of the cameras is a multi-step process that would likely take several months, Holland said. The city would also need to hold a public meeting, hire a full-time police officer to oversee the program and conduct a study of traffic speeds to determine the best locations for the cameras, Holland said.
Camera sites must be advertised on the city's website and in a newspaper, and a one-month period where warnings are issued instead of citations is required, Holland said.
A system would not be up and running before October, according to Holland's timetable.
Councilman William Tierney (Ward 2), citing the recent troubles of a Hyattsville resident whose license plates were stolen and who had then been issued speed-camera citations earned by the driver now using his tags, asked about the procedure for voiding such citations.
Holland said such incidents were extremely rare, and in the handful of times the city had encountered the stolen-tag problem with its existing red-light cameras, the citations were quickly voided once victims brought the issue to the attention of the police department.
Hyattsville resident Nina Faye offered qualified support of the cameras.
"I think that for the most part, they're a good idea ... they make me slow down," said Faye, who was not in attendance at the Feb. 8 meeting. But proper oversight and management were essential, she added, alluding to the same resident Tierney mentioned at the meeting.
Installing cameras, particularly on Adelphi Road, is likely to save lives, said William Kitchings, principal of Northwestern Evening High School.
"Adelphi being such a busy street ... it is a hazard sometimes to even get out [of the parking lot], especially making a left turn," Kitchings said.