I am firmly against the speed cameras. I don’t think they deter speeding, I think they increase the likelihood of accidents due to people suddenly slamming on their brakes, and I think they create huge amounts of resentment in a powerless populace. I say this as someone who works in an ER and sees the results of accidents regularly, and as a driver on the roads. And to any of you who think even for a moment that if you don’t speed you have nothing to worry about, I have news for you. Those cameras are recording 24/7. The police are perfectly capable of tracking your movements wherever the cameras are posted, as are the servicing company’s staff. Stalkers, anyone? Orwell, anyone? To quote Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Being able to track people based on their license plates wherever they go, when you have access to their home address and an idea of their income level based on the car they drive and their routines, seems to me to be a recipe for a disaster in the making.
When the papers reported that our former governor had cleared the way for speed cameras to be located on the state’s highways I predicted a rash of shootings taking them out. When the speed cameras went mobile, I held my tongue and waited for the rage of the people to begin.
I waited longer than I thought I would; apparently even in this state people have greater restraint, and more good sense than I have given them as a whole credit for. Instead of antisocial methods of getting rid of the cameras, the majority of the populace engaged in lobbying, letter writing campaigns, public education, petitions and the like to get rid of them. It looked as though they might actually be making progress last month, when legislators at the state level said they were considering legislation to ban the cameras along the highways (the cities could still do what they wanted on their streets). That is, until one legislator from Anthem said that we couldn’t ban the cameras because we had to let their contract run out or we would be sued by the company who owns and services the cameras…which is actually not true. Our governor may have been greedy and naieve, but she did make sure there was a clause in the contract that simply states the state may cancel the contract at any time if it is determined that it is not in the best interests of the state to continue it. So. All the legislators would have had to have done was make a formal declaration in the bill that the cameras are not in our best interests and therefore banned. Done deal. Unfortunately it did not work that way; people heard the first part (we are stuck with the cameras until Sept 2010) and didn’t hear the last part (contract can be cancelled).
Thanks to lawmakers who are more afraid of being sued than in upholding the will of the people and the best interests of our state, the backlash has now begun. Last night a motorist stopped near a mobile camera van, got out of his vehicle, walked up to the van, and shot the driver multiple times, killing him. Whether he was a civilian or a retired officer working on a contract I don’t know, but he is dead and leaves a family grieving behind him.
The fact that it happened does not surprise me; that it took this long for something like this to happen does. The viciousness of the attack saddens me.
If DPS does not voluntarily remove the cameras for more than the temporary halt they have called, I predict more of the same, and better planning and execution of vandalism to the unmanned cameras.