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Kill the cameras
(Published August 13, 2001)

It is disturbing to learn that the Metropolitan Police Department’s newest toys — what they are calling "photo radar cameras" — have caught hundreds of unsuspecting motorists speeding since police began issuing tickets with the new high-technology speed traps on Aug. 6. Registered owners soon will begin receiving speeding tickets, ranging from $30 to $200, in their mail after their motor vehicle gets surreptitiously photographed by one of the cameras that are attached to special unmarked police cars.

IMS Corp., a profit-making company which fronted the money to implement the system, will collect a $29 fee for each of the speeding citations that are paid. The city expects the system to generate 80,000 tickets per month, compared with about 10,000 total speeding tickets issued during all of last year. At the minimum $30 apiece, those tickets would generate more than $28 million in fines during a single year.

Most D.C. residents would agree with Police Chief Charles Ramsey when he says that motorists generally drive too fast on our city streets. On the first day of implementation, police said the cameras caught more than 80 drivers speeding during a three-hour period along Georgia Avenue and about 200 more along MacArthur Boulevard.

Does this mean that police officers operating those cameras, who are earning overtime pay from IMS, are content to keep photographing dozens of speeders, rather than noting that a marked police cruiser dispatched to the area might effectively calm a potentially dangerous traffic situation?

Profit, rather than public safety, appears to be the primary concern. Kill the cameras. A vigilant MPD shouldn’t need them.


Copyright © 2001 The Common Denominator