As part of its investigation of those complaints, The Sun used video time stamps to determine the speeds of vehicles as they passed through the camera's path in eight cases, and then compared them to the speeds listed on the citations. In each case, the newspaper said, the speeds on the citations were overstated and did not warrant a ticket.
Xerox spokesman Gilligan told The Sun that the company conducted an investigation of the camera complaints and "determined that the speeds recorded for an extremely limited number of high-profile vehicles were excessive due to radar effects, most likely reflection off the large metallic surfaces of these vehicles."
Both Xerox and Baltimore officials defend the speed camera program as an effective tool in slowing down motorists and preventing crashes. They said 6,000 erroneous tickets out of 1.6 million issued is minuscule. But most tickets are simply paid by mail and never challenged, records show, meaning it is impossible to determine how many more erroneous tickets might have been issued and paid.
The city acknowledged that during the life of the program, only 19,689 camera-issued speeding tickets were challenged in court. Of those, judges threw out the ticket in 1,897 cases. The Sun reporters reviewed 415 cases overseen by five judges and found that judges had sided with motorists in more than half of those cases.
Xerox Corp., best known for its onetime domination of the photocopier market, entered the speed camera business in 2009 when it acquired Affiliated Computer Services Inc. Prior to Xerox taking it over, Affiliated Computer Services had been plagued by scandals involving its camera programs.
Chicago's longtime red-light camera vendor, Redflex, is now under scrutiny for its close relationship to the former city official who oversaw the contract since it began.
John Bills, who retired in 2011 as the city's managing deputy commissioner of transportation, took a job soon thereafter as a consultant to a Redflex-funded traffic safety group. Bills is also under investigation for accepting a luxury hotel stay from a Redflex executive in 2010 and for his longtime friendship with a Chicago man who got a job with Redflex and collected $576,000 in commissions plus $50,000 annually to be a Redflex customer service representative.
Bills has denied any wrongdoing. Redflex was disqualified from pursuing the speed camera contract because of the hotel stay and because the company failed to report to the city that one of its own vice presidents had made internal allegations of improprieties against Bills in 2010. The company said it hired a Chicago law firm to conduct an "exhaustive" investigation of those allegations, and found them to be without merit. It acknowledges however, that neither Bills nor its customer service representative were interviewed.
Redflex's current contract on the city's red-light program expires Jan. 13, and the city has made no move to replace the longtime vendor, which has collected nearly $100 million in fees from the city since 2003.