Speed cameras are somewhat resented by a lot of people, as few relish having to pay the government even more than they already do. A number of people have been vandalizing speed cameras in various areas, leading governments to crack down on people who damage them.
Cameras installed to watch the speed cameras
When Juvenal wrote the phrase “qui custodiet e custodes,” meaning “who watches the watchers,” preventing speed camera vandalism is not what he had in mind. However, that’s what police in Prince George County, Maryland, have resorted to, according to the Washington Post.
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Speed cameras aren’t popular anywhere, though that hardly excuses criminal acts of retribution. Miscreants have been damaging the speed cameras, leading police to install cameras to watch the speed cameras.
Several areas in the Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Md., corridor have speed cameras, which some citizens take umbrage with. According to NBC News, six of Prince George County’s speed cameras have been damaged since April, two being hit twice. In Baltimore County, which is to the northeast of Prince George County and does not contain the city of Baltimore, eight incidents have taken place since 2010.
Ironically the citizenry gets stuck with the bill
Though some might cheer on the vandals, it’s usually the citizenry that has to pay for it. Prince George County speed cameras go on the public’s tab; Baltimore County cameras have to be maintained by the vendor. Each camera costs $30,000, about the cost of a new Impala, except the funding doesn’t come from a bank or a car loan broker; that comes from taxes.
Speed camera vandalism incidents include cameras being shot with marbles, lenses being spray painted over and even shot. Worse still, according to the Baltimore Sun, some of the speed cameras are mobile units, housed in a van. Several of those have damaged as well, including one incident where a man walked up to the van and smashed the windscreen with a hammer, while brandishing a shotgun. In front of the van’s driver.
Others have been a little more innocuous. An unidentified person in Washington, D.C., according to Washington, D.C., CBS affiliate WUSA-9, was marking utility poles that had speed cameras mounted to them with orange “X” marks, to identify them to motorists.
Unruliness or too much Big Brother?
It isn’t confined just to Maryland and Washington, D.C.; as the Baltimore Sun points out, speed camera vandalism has been recorded in other districts. Likewise, red light camera vandalism has been noticed as well. For instance, in 2010, according to AOL Autos, vigilantes in Nassau County, New York, spray painted over a number of red light camera lenses. That same year in Seattle, Wash., according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, thieves removed a camera from its mooring atop a traffic light.
Clifford Clark III, of Knoxville, Tenn., according to WATE-6, an ABC affiliate in Knoxville, shot a red light camera with a hunting rifle in 2007. He was arrested for felony vandalism but charges were dropped in 2009.
People shouldn’t speed or run red lights; it is breaking the law, after all. On one hand, they may deserve tickets from speed cameras. On the other hand, Chinese emperor Laozi in the “Tao Te Ching” likened governing to frying a fish; too much poking ruins it. People don’t like the notion of Big Brother always peering over their shoulders.
WUSA 9: http://www.wusa9.com/news/article/203654/158/Mystery-Man-With-A-Spray-Can-Marking-Hidden-DC-Speed-Cameras
AOL Autos: http://autos.aol.com/article/red-light-camera-backlash/
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Red-light-camera-stolen-from-South-Seattle-893615.php