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DC Inspector General Investigation Slams DC's Camera & Parking Ticketing As A Scheme
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DC Inspector General Investigation Slams DC's Camera & Parking Ticketing As A Scheme - September 9, 2014, 09:59 AM

Well, we've been saying it for years .... and now an official investigation has confirmed it. The unholy alliance between DC's contractors (Boeing & BAE) who install and run the traffic camera system giving DC's a slice of the ticketing revenue, as well as the contractors they hire to run the meters and parking enforcement, whose field ticketers are bonus on the number of fines they write has been a scheme to defraud motorist, residents, and visitors all in an effort not to primarily enhance safety and administer municipal parking law, but to protect a rich and value ancillary revenue stream for the city.

God, I pray a class action lawsuit is launched. After paying over a $1,000 in parking fines and camera tickets - (Several months ago I got a camera ticket for a car that I didn't own?! I had turned my DC plates in a year prior and the plate number was recycled) I would be the first to sign my name up and get my $37.23 settlement check.

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[IMG]http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/485*273/DC+Speed+Cameras+Red+Light+Cameras+Photo+Enforceme nt+Sign.jpg[/IMG]

The D.C. Inspector General has just released a scathing report on the District’s aggressive parking ticket programs, slamming D.C. police speed cameras that issue tickets "without conclusive identification" of the vehicles and ticket-writing by public works and transportation department employees.

The 134-page report also suggests the city values the nearly $172 million in ticket revenue over ticket accuracy.

The Inspector General's office offered up an illuminating quote in the report: "One of the most insightful and provocative comments made to the OIG team came from a senior District official: 'One of the beauties of parking, it’s like the [Internal Revenue Service]. If you get a parking ticket, you are guilty until you have proven yourself innocent ... That has worked well for us.'"

Writing of both parking and other traffic tickets is a big revenue source for the District. In fiscal year 2013, the District collected $82,847,664 in parking tickets alone; typically, parking tickets are written by the District's Department of Public Works.

Another $88,832,976 came from automated traffic enforcement tickets, including red-light and speed cameras. Those are typically written by

Metropolitan Police Department officers, though a host of other city agencies also can issue tickets.
Issuing tickets can be a subjective process, the Inspector General found.

Pictures from speed cameras and red light cameras are reviewed before tickets are issued.

However, the Metropolitan Police Department's training manual instructs reviewers to issue tickets even when the car in the picture doesn't match their registration databases.

That puts drivers in the position of arguing that they don't own the car in the picture, the IG found.

And speed cameras can't tell which lane a speeding car is in, which "introduces an element of uncertainty" when the camera is monitoring two or more lanes of traffic moving away from the camera, the report found.
In those cases, sworn officers have to decide which vehicle was speeding and if a ticket is warranted -- which the inspector general found they do with a "lack of precision and certainty."

Parking tickets had their own issues. If you get a parking ticket in D.C., you are supposed to be able to view a photo of the violation through DPW's TicPix program.

But too often, the pictures are not available there, the Inspector General found. The IG even suggested that any ticket that didn't have a picture on

TicPix should be dismissed.

The inspector general finds that "guilty until proven innocent" appears to be the city's philosophy in a number of ways. For drivers who have gone through the experience of fighting a ticket, the report only confirms what they already suspected.

Seventy-five percent of all parking tickets issued in the District are written to drivers who live in Maryland or Virginia, AAA Mid-Atlantic says. And in some instances, the drivers never travel into the District. The tickets are a mistake.

"Based on our experience, that's exactly what we had to do. We had to waste countless hours proving our innocence," says Fairfax County resident Claire Pilkington, who was hassled for months over two unpaid parking tickets issued to a car with nearly identical plates to hers.

Metropolitan police caused the error when an officer handwrote a ticket and did not distinguish between an "I" and a "1."

"It verifies what ordinary people, like me, thought anyway. We just haven't been able to prove it," says local driver Patrick LaFontant. The decorated Navy veteran received a ticket while parked at broken meter on the 600 block of D Street in Southwest.

LaFontant argued that the D.C. 311 operator told him it was legal to remain at the spot when he called to report the broken meter. While Ticketbuster was unable to verify his claims, a later case revealed 311 operators have misinformed drivers about broken meters.

The IG report also uncovered confusion surrounding the city's broken meters.

"Not finding an authoritative answer in the [regulations], the team turned to DDOT procedures, and was again surprised by the lack of a clear procedure for dealing with this situation. ... The confusion among TCOs and managers is evident, so is the impact upon District motorists: inconsistency in ticketing operations," the report states.

"Some skeptical members of the public might assert that the District's failure to inform motorists on this subject is intentional: without clear criteria of the District's ticketing practices, a ticketed motorist is unable to prove that proper procedure was not followed," it concludes.

The report's findings offer support to some motorists who feel that ticket writers are unfair, and that the city, itself, is more focused on revenue and less focused on safety.

"Guilty until proven innocent is ridiculous. It's abhorrent. They treat us all like as if we don't exist. They can do whatever they want and we'll see how much money we can collect," says Virginia resident Walt Edwards.

Although Edwards has not driven in the District since he retired from a job on Capitol Hill, the city sent two tickets to his Arlington home. Both were eventually dismissed because the type of car detailed on the ticket didn't match the type of car Edwards drives.

He says Fairfax County is much more customer friendly, and that when in doubt, tickets get thrown out.

Fairfax County, as well as Arlington and Alexandria counties in Virginia, and Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland, have all assisted WTOP Ticketbuster in previous cases. They often resolve the questionable tickets within 24 hours.

Speed Cameras: More Focused on Revenue than Safety

The OIG report finds that in several ways, Metropolitan police present an image that speed cameras are more about collecting revenue and less about enforcing safety. The report questions a DDOT-MPD study from January, 2014, which found that all 241 planned or proposed locations across the city need speed cameras.

"However, at nearly half of those locations, the 85th percentile speed -- a common engineering benchmark -- was at or below the posted speed limit," the report finds.

The 85th percentile speed is a number that shows the speed of 85 percent of drivers on the road in a given day, week or month.

"The OIG team does not dispute that safety concerns may exist at some or many of the 241 planned and proposed locations for automated speed enforcement, but questions why the study found a justification to deploy speed cameras at every location. As DDOT notes in the Executive Summary of its study, 'The District uses automated speed enforcement as one of several tools to promote safety.'

However, without more conclusive data, the OIG is somewhat skeptical that use of this particular speed enforcement tool is justified at every one of the over 300 existing, planned and proposed locations that was studied," the report concludes.

The Metropolitan Police Department disagrees with the OIG's findings.

"While the District does use vehicular speed as a factor in its determination of whether to place a camera at a location, this is not the sole factor in making traffic safety determinations. Instead, the study conducted a comprehensive review of speed data, accident data, injuries and fatalities resulting from collisions, speed-related crashes, site characteristics, bicycle and pedestrian-traffic generators, and overall traffic operations," the department stated.

An example of this issue is at 6500 Western Ave. in Northwest D.C., near the D.C. and Montgomery County border.

Engineers found that the 85th percentile speed is one mile an hour below the speed limit. They also found that there were zero crashes on the block in two years and no bicycle lanes or major bicycles paths. However, the study's authors find the block should have speed cameras.

"Although the speed data analysis showed the travel speeds as being lower than the posted speed limit, the residential nature of the location as well as the pedestrian generators of the Metrobus stops support a nexus between traffic safety and the speed camera at this location," the study's authors conclude.

But Metro says that the E6 bus is the only line that serves this block. The route has an average of 410 weekday passengers, which is considered far below average. In comparison, the E2-E3-E4 routes had a weekday average of 6.754 in July 2014. Metro's E6 bus lines are so underutilized that Metro considered eliminating the line and the bus stop at 6500 Western Ave. in 2013.

DC Police defended the location in a statement late Monday, again stating "this site is residential in nature and there are bus stops nearby."

Critics such as AAA Mid-Atlantic believe such a finding undermines the credibility of the cameras.

"We aren't against speed cameras. We have worked with Montgomery County and Prince George's County to make sure they have a camera program that is valid, earnest and based on integrity and fairness. We have reached to the District and have been rebuffed. The fact is that people should be critical of this program in the District and this report validates all the criticism we have had," says John B. Townsend, manager of public and government affairs at AAA.

Investigators with the Inspector General also find that police issued questionable tickets that might not have been issued in other Maryland jurisdictions.

For example, older D.C. police cameras were unable to distinguish which car was speeding on multi-lane roads. Nonetheless, reviewers would still issue the speed camera tickets.

"It is important to note that the program staff carefully reviews any images containing multiple vehicles before approving the issuance of a citation. Citations are issued to vehicle owners only when the program staff can identify the vehicle they believe has committed a traffic law infraction," police tell the OIG.

"Second, in a highly urbanized jurisdiction like the District, there are often multiple vehicles traveling on the same roadway. The Report urges the prohibition of any citations if any camera photographs more than one vehicle in its frame. But if the District followed the report's recommendation, it would become nearly impossible to enforce traffic violations against any vehicle unless that vehicle was the only vehicle on the roadway," police add.

Patrick Grogan has received one of these tickets, which alleged he was going over 80 mph, and he is skeptical of this response.

"I was able to get my ticket thrown out because the hearing examiner [said] how absurd it was. If there is any doubt, they should throw it out. But they won't, because it's all about the money and they assume most folks from Maryland, like me, won't fight it," Grogan says.

The Inspector General also finds that speed camera tickets are issued, even if the type of car in the photograph does not match the type of car in the official DMV record.

Police argue that drivers may swap their plates with someone else to avoid getting tickets.

"In a number of ways, the city makes it clear that it views motorists with suspicion and considers them an enemy," Townsend says. D.C. Police criticized the overall report late Monday.

"Overall the report seems to equate the tone of sensationalist coverage of automated enforcement with the opinion of the public. That is a mistake," it reads.

"Having drivers moderate their speeds by just a few miles an hour increases pedestrian survival rates significantly. For example, a pedestrian hit by a car going 30 miles per hour has an 80 percent chance of living. If the car is going just 10 miles faster, the pedestrian has more than an 80 percent change of being fatally injured. Contrary to the Report's flawed assumption, there is widespread support for the District's program among residents because they know it is the most efficient method of traffic safety enforcement, with no concerns that the cameras are biased against a vehicle driver based on race, ethnicity, or type of car."

Parking Tickets: No Way to Protect Drivers from Bogus Tickets

With more than 2 million parking tickets written in D.C. each year, the Inspector General finds a lack of adequate safeguards to protect drivers from bogus tickets as well as resistance to any measures to significant reform. It also finds the three main ticketing agencies -- D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW), DDOT and MPD -- do not have consistent guidelines for ticketing drivers.

The report criticizes MPD because 60 percent of the parking and moving violations are still handwritten -- a method prone to error. MPD argues that moving all of its officers to machine tickets is not in the public's interest or a good use of public funds.

Even when officers use machine tickets, the Inspector General says not enough photographs are taken to document the parking violation.

DPW, which writes a large number of parking tickets in the city, does take pictures under a program called TicPix. However, the IG finds that not enough parking tickets have the required pictures. It also finds that DDOT and MPD almost never take pictures when they issue parking or moving violations.

The Inspector General recommends that nearly every parking ticket have a picture available online to the driver, or else the ticket be automatically dismissed.

DPW and DDOT disagree.

"It should be noted that the photographic evidence program was instituted mainly as a courtesy to motorists. It was not intended to change the evidentiary requirements for establishing a case for a parking violation. Once a motorist challenges the ticket, he or she may rebut the prima facie evidence by proving that the violation was issued in error through the adjudication process," the agencies write.

But ticketed motorists are suspicious of this response.

"A picture is hard and fast. A person cannot come back and say, ‘I was not at that location,' if the picture is taken. That would just help the process. To say that it's a burden is just an excuse," LaFontant says.

"In our instance, the license plate was written incorrectly. If a picture had been attached, it would have been cleared up almost instantly. Perhaps we wouldn't have even received the ticket in the mail," Pilkington says.

The report also highlights inconsistencies among the agencies on broken meters. It finds that whether a driver receives a ticket tends to be based on the particular officer on a block. Some officers will automatically ticket, while others will time the driver to the limit in the zone or check if the meter is broken and be lenient.

DDOT and DPW agree that the agencies need to make new comprehensive policies and procedures that specifically address broken meters.

"They're not interested in justice; they're interested in collecting dollars," says driver Grogan. "If that means screwing over Joe Public, so be it."



Read more: http://www.wtop.com/41/3697614/Repor...#ixzz3CpYl8ZsW



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September 9, 2014, 10:28 AM

Saw this last night, been a victim of it as well. DC police official response was pretty much "This shares the views of the public which is unfortunate." Can't find the exact quote, was on Fox 5 last night.


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So in summary you're a little bitch, nobody believes your bitchass about anything, you look like a bitch, you sound like a whiny bitch and you've probably been a bitch for a long time.

All I want to know, how old were you when you realized you were a bitch? or did someone else have to tell you?

The only thing you can Jocky is the keyboard, so why dont you stfu Bitch
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September 9, 2014, 10:51 AM

DC has gotten me. There was a similar problem in Baltimore. I bet all cities are like this.
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September 9, 2014, 11:56 AM

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Originally Posted by Qcslvr View Post
Saw this last night, been a victim of it as well. DC police official response was pretty much "This shares the views of the public which is unfortunate." Can't find the exact quote, was on Fox 5 last night.
The thing is DCPD manages the program from an enforcement perspective, but they do not run the program.

American Traffic Solutions and Boeing actually run the program for free. They pay for the hardware and maintenance, pay for the retrofit of the camera cars, supply the I/T systems, and then under an agreement with DC (and other municipalities) have a revenue sharing agreement.

DC takes 50% of all fines levied and the partner takes the remainder.

This clearly puts in place a perverse incentive for both parties to increase revenues by setting up as many speed traps as possible or reposting speed limits below what should be the natural limit for a road of that type and environment (i.e. the I-295 suddenly drops from 55 to 45 on the MD/DC line - why does a 3 lane highway that is straight shot around absolutely no residential and barely any commercial need to be 45 mph?).

And then DC got so aggressive (ne' greedy) they actually installed a camera in Maryland over the Maryland border without Maryland's / PG County's approval and attempted to defend it saying that the camera was pointed at DC/MD line.



“Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a Prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires”.

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September 9, 2014, 12:42 PM

I'm not gonna say the report is wrong, I won't even say I've never been a victim of it. I just want to point out that every time I've ever gotten a ticket that was wrong I've sent it in with the Deny box checked. I've written an explanation and included proof (if I had any) and they've always been dropped. I've never had to waste time going down there or paid for anything but a stamp. But then, I've never tried to skate when I was in the wrong either.

Has anyone here ever tried the simple way before wasting time/money? Did anyone get nailed when it actually was wrong? (assuming you even tried to get it dismissed)

I know the system is broken but I've never had to pay a fine unless I really did speed or park illegally and I can't believe I've always just been that lucky. When you're in the right (actually, not just cause you think you should be) do you just pay up cause you assume they're crooks?


Physics always wins

. . . . so get that helmet cam! . . . . . . Because the D-K Effect is an STD .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning...3Kruger_effect

Quote:
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This is what happens when weak minded adults allow children to make decisions. You get stupid shit like this.
unintentional accidental

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September 9, 2014, 12:47 PM

Don't they all operate in a similar fashion?
Whatever the particulars, they're all corrupt... and inept.
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September 9, 2014, 12:50 PM

I'm still waiting on the decision for my tickets from the early spring. I paid the meter online - still got the ticket. Did it again the next few days, even going so far as to print out the receipt and put it where they were giving me tickets. They put tickets right on top of the paid receipt. I even highlighted the ticket number, parking spot, parking zone etc. They still gave me a handful of tickets.
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September 9, 2014, 12:54 PM

Why ride with tags?


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September 9, 2014, 01:44 PM

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Originally Posted by Cutter View Post
I'm still waiting on the decision for my tickets from the early spring. I paid the meter online - still got the ticket. Did it again the next few days, even going so far as to print out the receipt and put it where they were giving me tickets. They put tickets right on top of the paid receipt. I even highlighted the ticket number, parking spot, parking zone etc. They still gave me a handful of tickets.
I've never gotten a notice that a ticket was dropped.

You can look yours up online, by the citation number I think and if they've dropped it it shouldn't show up. If you still have outstandings several months later you usually know. They show up and 'boot' your ride.


Physics always wins

. . . . so get that helmet cam! . . . . . . Because the D-K Effect is an STD .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning...3Kruger_effect

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slider View Post
This is what happens when weak minded adults allow children to make decisions. You get stupid shit like this.
unintentional accidental

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I am socially disabled so some things do need to be explained to me.

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September 9, 2014, 01:50 PM

Glad they got caught..

I hope most of the cameras are removed at somepoint..!!

I drive like a granny thru DC nowadays!!
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September 9, 2014, 01:54 PM

Because they'll tow it if it's parked with no tags.
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September 9, 2014, 01:55 PM

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Originally Posted by lam@dcsf View Post
I've never gotten a notice that a ticket was dropped.

You can look yours up online, by the citation number I think and if they've dropped it it shouldn't show up. If you still have outstandings several months later you usually know. They show up and 'boot' your ride.
They said they'd email/mail notice.
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September 9, 2014, 02:29 PM

Thank the lord Jebuz.....
But i knew this was coming....about 2 weeks ago or so Fox 5 did a report caught them monkeys in action....

I was thanking Fox 5...


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September 9, 2014, 02:30 PM

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Originally Posted by lam@dcsf View Post
I'm not gonna say the report is wrong, I won't even say I've never been a victim of it. I just want to point out that every time I've ever gotten a ticket that was wrong I've sent it in with the Deny box checked. I've written an explanation and included proof (if I had any) and they've always been dropped. I've never had to waste time going down there or paid for anything but a stamp. But then, I've never tried to skate when I was in the wrong either. Has anyone here ever tried the simple way before wasting time/money? Did anyone get nailed when it actually was wrong? (assuming you even tried to get it dismissed) I know the system is broken but I've never had to pay a fine unless I really did speed or park illegally and I can't believe I've always just been that lucky. When you're in the right (actually, not just cause you think you should be) do you just pay up cause you assume they're crooks?
here's the thing with DC.
They issue you a ticket for whatever civil infraction you're alleged to have committed.

You have 30-days to respond with. If you neglect to respond, they find you guilty - and then DOUBLE the fine and tack on another $10 administrative fee.

After a third ticket, they boot you. That cost an additional $250 to have removed. Or worse, they tow you.

At the time I had one half of a duplex near the Convention center.
I had my car legally parked on a street. Paid for my DC Residential Zone Parking sticker and all. I went away on a 3-week business trip. While I was away, one of these high security events took place at the Convention Center. As hoc they made the entire block a restricted No Parking zone.

DC towed my car and moved it 5 blocks away. No harm, no foul right? Wrong!

They dropped it in another zone on a street that had street cleaning rules.

I come home to find I had $350 in parking tickets. 'No zone sticker displayed' - 'illegally parked during street cleaning' ... Mind you it was the middle of February; the street cleaners weren't even out and never touched the street.

DC said they would "work with me" and cut my fines in half, but my car was in violation because I had not moved it 48 hours after they towed it.

. Yes you damn simps, because you moved it from a legal location to an illegal location and I was 2,000 miles away. I'm sorry my car didn't call me up. I don't have K.I.T.T.



“Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a Prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires”.

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September 9, 2014, 04:53 PM

That completely sucks. They so need to work with you on that one.

I will say that while I lived in town I never went away for more than 48 hrs without leaving keys with a trusted friend to keep an eye on my stuff. Sucks and I hated doing it but that's the world we live in. When I move back in a few years I'm gonna have a garage.


Physics always wins

. . . . so get that helmet cam! . . . . . . Because the D-K Effect is an STD .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning...3Kruger_effect

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slider View Post
This is what happens when weak minded adults allow children to make decisions. You get stupid shit like this.
unintentional accidental

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I am socially disabled so some things do need to be explained to me.

2013 Suzuki TU250XL3
2010 Triumph Bonneville - I love that fucking bike . . . . Om nom nom nom . . .-Fitz
2009 Suzuki TU250XK9 - KBC Sep 2013
2001 Honda Rebel CMX - KBC Mar 2010

http://flexyourrights.org/
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