I am mad and I am going to quit trying to figure it out anymore.
I woke up this morning and headed out to work. My neighbor had a sign in his yard that stated, “these premises are under video surveillance”, dang it, better keep moving. I stopped at the local convenience store to get a few gallons of gas and a coffee. Great day in the morning there are cameras there watching me pump gas and pour coffee.
Better keep moving. I stopped at the donut shop to get my favorite artery clogger and cheese and crackers - more stress, cameras focusing in on me. After the donut purchase I realized I need cash. I stopped at my bank's local convenient automated teller, George and Martha Washington, I am on video withdrawing 20 bucks. Better move on. Finally got to work and parked my car and, sweet tea and biscuits, there is a camera focused on the car park. Ok. Let me make it into my little part of the world where I pound out my humble living. There, surely I can escape the eye of the camera. Great Googlie Mooglie, there is a camera watching me clock in, another in the hallway, another in the stairwell, and yet another in the….. well you get the picture. No pun intended.
Video cameras are everywhere. Video cameras are used at residences to deter those among us who are of low character (some lacking any measure at all) to think twice before engaging in theft. I wish I had had one in place a few months ago. Businesses use them to provide a safe shopping experience and to deter shoplifting and employee theft, which helps keep cost down. Our places of work use them to provide a safe environment to perform that which we were hired, also to encourage employee productivity.
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department just recently floated the idea of placing laser camera systems in patrol cars so that officers can better enforce traffic laws in traffic areas that are hard for sheriffs to monitor. County Commissioners voted for the idea and then have caught a lot of unwarranted criticism over their vote. Some commissioners so much so that they are considering changing their vote.
Though I applaud citizens for exercising their rights to voice their opinion, I don’t think any law-abiding citizens are going to be targeted, only those that wish to drive at their own excessive pace.
I for one applaud the Sheriff’s Department, and those commissioners who voted for it, for trying to maintain a safe commute to and from my work place, for me, my family, and my friends’ families. (The city of Chattanooga would do well to follow the county's lead and monitor excessive speed on Signal Mountain Boulevard. That road is the equivalent of the German autobahn). If I travel at the posted speed limit I have nothing to fear from the cameras. A person has no more to fear from a traffic camera than he does from his neighbor’s surveillance camera, the convenience store camera, the donut shop's camera, the bank's camera, or your work place camera.
We all drive a little faster than we should sometimes and I look at traffic cameras as a reminder to slow it down and proceed at a safe speed. I know if I get a $50 ticket for driving too fast that I will be more aware of my speed in the future. That’s not a bad thing.
I want to encourage the County Commissioners to back the Sherif’s Department in their effort to maintain a safe community atmosphere.
There is no mistake in standing up for what is right. It takes a great deal of character to do so, especially when there seems to be so many that say you are wrong.
* * *
Just a few words about traffic cameras.
The city has traffic cameras and charge you a $50 fine if you are caught speeding. If the tickets were handled like a regular ticket, that would be okay. But, in reality, all the money goes to the city and the contractor. The state is never notified about the ticket. That means that if an habitual offender (a person who commits a felony by simply driving a car) gets caught speeding three times, all he has to do is pay $150 and keep driving. The state is never notified that this person is committing a crime, the City Court is unaware that more drastic action should be taken, proof of insurance is never verified and probably doesn't exist.
Second problem: the citation will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. What if you weren't driving the car? What if you have several drivers in your family and you honestly don't know who was driving the car? What if you sold the car with the tag still on it (which is something you should never do)? Sometimes dealers take a valid tag off a car on their lot instead of giving a drive-out tag. You might be able to straighten this out with the court, but it takes time. And you might still have to pay the $50.
A portion of the revenue will be given to another program. I am reminded of the times that "a portion of the revenue will go to......". But a single penny is "a portion of the revenue." I do not doubt Jim Hammond's integrity. But, unfortunately, other people will almost certainly be handing out that portion of the revenue and, unless a specific amount is publicly stated, that amount may not be much more than a penny per ticket.
And, finally, I have a big problem with calling a traffic fine "revenue." I know it's just a matter of semantics but I don't feel that a traffic fine should be counted on as regular income for a government.
* * *
The problem is not the excessive use of cameras. The problem is not the speeding and getting caught. The problem is the money grab. Of each $50 collected, $25 goes to Brentwood and $25 goes to Hamilton County. Of the $25 that would go to the county, only half goes to driver's education. The other half goes where?
I have a big problem when businesses get into the realm of public safety, especially when they get in bed with those who can arrest me. I don't have a problem with Google knowing what I do, because they won't throw me in jail. Now, if the sheriff decides to enter in to a contract with Google in order to fine his constituents (he is elected), then I would have a huge problem with Google, but probably more so with him.
The conflicting interests of the business (money) and the sheriff ("public safety") often end up with the trap cameras set up anywhere but a dangerous place. The white vans that the city employs are set up on long straightaways on busy roads with lower speed limits; not the Signal Mountain Boulevards and Fairview Roads of Hamilton County. The money isn't on those roads. The money is on Broad Street and East Brainerd Road. I would applaud the sheriff if I believed this was about public safety, but these cameras have proved to be more about the general fund.
The whole idea stinks more than Republic Parking (off street parking company) being contracted to regulate the city's on street parking. And that situation really stinks.
* * *
I don't want traffic cameras. Most speed limits are ridiculously low, and I want to speed and not be fined to do it. End of story.
* * *
I am not for the speed cameras since I feel it is unconstitutional because it violates the fourth amendment which states "any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause." A warrant (ticket) is served by the court system (not a private company).
I (unlike the respondent above me) don't have to worry about the cameras since I do drive the speed limit; sometimes even less. I am not in a hurry to get anywhere. Again, unlike the respondent above me.
* * *
This is all about money, not safety.
There are several benefits to officers actually doing their jobs and getting out of their cars to write tickets. When someone is approached by an officer at a traffic stop they must roll down their window and speak with the officer. At this time the office may smell alcohol or notice if the person is under the influence of drugs. He then ask for their license and insurance, and verifies if license is valid and if the person is wanted. He will also run the plate and see if the vehicle is stolen.
None of these things can be checked by a camera that send a ticket two weeks later, not to mention the deterrent they provide simply by being seen on the side of the road writing tickets.