By Joe Slaninka
Special to the Sentinel
As a prank, students from local high schools have been taking advantage of the county's Speed Camera Program in order to exact revenge on people who they believe have wronged them in the past, including other students and even teachers.
Students from Richard Montgomery High School dubbed the prank the Speed Camera "Pimping" game, according to a parent of a student enrolled at one of the high schools.
Originating from Wootton High School, the parent said, students duplicate the license plates by printing plate numbers on glossy photo paper, using fonts from certain websites that "mimic" those on Maryland license plates. They tape the duplicate plate over the existing plate on the back of their car and purposefully speed through a speed camera, the parent said. The victim then receives a citation in the mail days later.
Students are even obtaining vehicles from their friends that are similar or identical to the make and model of the car owned by the targeted victim, according to the parent.
"This game is very disturbing," the parent said. "Especially since unsuspecting parents will also be victimized through receipt of unwarranted photo speed tickets.
The parent said that "our civil rights are exploited," and the entire premise behind the Speed Camera Program is called into question as a result of the growing this fad among students.
The Speed Camera Program was implemented in March of this year and used for the purpose of reducing traffic and pedestrian collisions in the county. Cameras are located in residential areas and school zones where the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour or lower. A $40 citation is mailed to the owner of the car for violating the speed limit in these areas.
The Montgomery County Police said they have not seen or heard of this prank occurring but said they will keep an eye out for people committing the crime.
"I hope the public at large will complain loudly enough that local Montgomery County government officials will change their policy of using these cameras for monetary gain," the parent said. "The practice of sending speeding tickets to faceless recipients without any type of verification is unwarranted and an exploitation of our rights."
Edward Owusu, Assistant Principal at Wootton High School, said that he heard of local students pulling the prank when the school received a call from a parent informing them of its occurrence. "I have not heard of this happening among students at Wootton," Osuwu said. "It is unfortunate that kids have a lot of time on their hands that they can think of doing such a thing."
Montgomery County Council President Phil Andrews said that the issue is troubling in several respects. "I am concerned that someone could get hurt, first of all, because they are speeding in areas where they know speeding is a problem," he said.
Andrews also said that this could hurt the integrity of the Speed Camera Program. "It will cause potential problems for the Speed Camera Program in terms of the confidence in it," he said.
He said he is glad someone caught it before it becomes more widespread and he said he hopes that the word get out to the people participating in this that there will be consequences.