“Why are MPD trucks registered outside of DC?”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr.TinDC

“Dear Popville,

The other day, while driving up North Capitol Street, I noticed a truck doing maintenance on one of the many speed cameras that populate North Cap. It had MPD insignia on the side, although it did not have any visible lights. What stuck out to me is that it had a Maryland license plate. Further up the street, I saw another truck with the same markings working on yet another speed camera, but this time with New Jersey plates. Why does MPD have vehicles registered in any state other than DC?”

Update from MPD’s, Gwendolyn Crump, Director, Office of Communications:

“For the purpose of contractors handling battery replacement of automated traffic enforcement units, MPD is renting vehicles on a short-term basis, which is more cost effective than buying vehicles.”

10 Comment

  • houseintherear

    I was wondering about this myself when I saw a truck the other day! My best guess is that the cameras are maintained by a specialty company and the MPD insignias are temporarily placed on otherwise white trucks. Perhaps it’s a company who works on cameras in various cities and places the city insignias on their cars/trucks while working. The guy I saw had an MPD vest on but not a uniform, so that would make sense too. But just a guess!

  • All of the speed cameras are run by a private corporation contracted by the city. It stands to reason that these contractors don’t necessarily drive DC-issued vehicles. Does the insignia actually say that they are MPD vehicles, or just “on MPD business”? This would be like those crappy beat up vans you see around town doing Comcast work, but the workers aren’t Comcast employees. The crookedly applied, scratched up “Comcast Contractor” sticker on the side will usually tell you.

  • Actually, much to the hilarity of the rest of us, and dismay of the City Council the MPD took complete control over the operation and maintenance of the automated cameras early in 2014. As the City Council discovered last fall when there was an inquiry as to why the yearly revenue had fallen nearly by half, it was disclosed that at any given time, 30-40% of the District’s cameras were inoperable. You have to frequently charge their batteries, do maintenance etc, and MPD wasn’t doing it.

    So to answer your question, who knows…

    • A little clarity as I know the whole system is a little confusing. About half of the cameras are owned and maintained by a contractor (leased to MPD), and half are owned and operated by MPD (the newer cameras). All of the cameras which require batteries to be replaced (regardless of which camera) are replaced by contractors. Also, the reasons behind the revenue drop are still being explored and a third party auditor is being hired.

  • They are most likely LEASED vehicles. MPD leases some vehicles for different tasks, from unmarked undercover vehicles to apparently maintenance vehicles for photo radar. It is quicker and easer to add a leased vehicle when it is needed (as is in the RAPIDLY growing photo radar program) than it is to buy a vehicle, especially due to already defined maintenance contracts for the department owned fleet.

    • Definitely right. A lot of vehicles are leased by DC from private vendors and the federal government. This is true for many municipalities around the country. Almost all of DC Fire and EMS equipment is leased from the feds and has federal government license plates (as opposed to regular DC fleet tags).

  • I have a question regarding a similar issue. I have been housesitting for my sister in Alexandria the past couple of days and Monday evening on my Metro ride to King Street, the train briefly stopped briefly somewhere between the Braddock Road and King Street stations. I looked out the window and saw a lot with around six or seven District government vehicles – DDOT, DPW, and even an MPD paddywagon. Anyone know why these vehicles would be stored out in Virginia?

  • A garage that works on DC vehicles stores the vehicles next to the track under the water tower. The garage is on the other side of the mega church.

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