From Jeffrey R. Gahler:
Sheriff Bane’s recent effort to test the will of those he is sworn to protect brings me great concern. I have been asked numerous times to declare my position on Sheriff Bane’s proposal to bring speed cameras to Harford County. It appears, based on Sheriff Bane’s method of presenting the concept to the residents of Harford County, that he has already set the course for full implementation of speed cameras and what he is doing is “testing the water” and “softening” the constituency to see how his plan will be received. Having repeatedly demonstrated Sheriff Bane’s willingness to misrepresent facts and statistics to the public, I am unwilling to accept the Sheriff’s claim that the revenue generated by a speed camera program has nothing to do with his decision for implementation. Speed camera programs and the enhanced revenue they generate have been exploited for political and financial gain throughout Maryland and no reason has been offered by Sheriff Bane to cause me to believe differently of his program.
It is my position that traffic enforcement is an important part of any public safety program. It was a cornerstone of my campaign in 2010 and will remain a priority in 2014. I am also an advocate for any reliable new technology that can aide in the effort to create a safe environment for our friends and family, however, today’s speed camera systems are not the answer.
Delegates McComas, Delegate McDonough, and Delegate Glass (and others) realized the deficiencies in motivation and speed camera technology early. These elected officials sponsored House Bill 1044 during the 2012 legislative session to attempt corrective action regarding the statewide speed camera statutes. Unfortunately, the bill was met with strong opposition from larger jurisdictions and was not presented to Governor O’Malley for signature. Testimony in opposition of the bill stated the opposition was driven, at least in part, by the reduction in speed camera revenues.
For those interested in reading the entire Bill, it can be found here.
The benefits of targeting problematic violations, or those identified through analysis as being the primary or secondary cause of dangerous or deadly crashes, is a sound practice when done to educate and correct improper behavior. The place, day and time of occurrence are also keys to a successful program as is the involvement of a sworn law enforcement officer. I am curious to hear where Sheriff Bane plans to deploy the cameras and what data he will use to support the placement.
The Sheriff has preached data driven tactics and consistently advises citizens that he uses data to reduce traffic related incidents; however, he admitted recently, as stated in the Baltimore Sun, that our County “ranks as the fifth most dangerous jurisdiction when it comes to highway fatalities, which this year already exceed the number of deaths in 2011.” The Sheriff went on to say “Traditionally we have spent more resources in fighting crime and not as much on traffic concerns.” As the Sheriff is quick to offer data showing that the County has ridden the national wave of reduced crime rates, I pause and question why, with his data, the Sheriff is not able to ride the national wave of reduced crashes and traffic fatalities.
It is important to foster a safe environment surrounding our educational campuses. I do not believe there is any opposition to this concept; however, if sound data proving a dangerous environment exists around schools, as the Sheriff has eluded by proposing speed cameras to address safety concerns, why have we not heard that the Traffic Task Force “comprised of state, county as well as municipal police departments” formed in 2011 “to target specific areas in the county where traffic problems occur” has been deployed to aggressively work those roads surrounding our educational campuses to immediately create a safe environment for our kids and educators. Will the safety of our students wait for Sheriff Bane’s speed camera contract or if there is currently safety issues surrounding our educational campuses will they be addressed right now?
Jeffrey R. Gahler
2014 Republican Candidate for Sheriff