In Arizona, cameras that nab speeders record a murder, too
Controversy flares after shooting death of a worker inside a camera-equipped van.
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Opponents also claim the program is unconstitutional because defendants don't get the right to face their accusers, but only a camera. It's true that a video or still camera cannot speak in court, but an officer of the law is there to testify about the use of the device, says the DPS's Mr. Warriner.Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Pugsley, the constitutional law professor, concurs. "Given that the photo or video tape is merely evidence that officers use in court, but that the officer is there to corroborate, this practice does satisfy the confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment," he says.
A vigilante act?
The shooting death of Doug Georgianni, a four-month employee of a photo-enforcement provider, has been charged to Thomas Patrick Destories, who police alleged pulled up next to the van where Mr. Georgianni was doing paperwork and fired five shots. Georgianni died later at a nearby hospital. Records show that Mr. Destories has not been photographed while speeding.
"We are shocked that the opponents of this practice could stoop to taking a life because they feel they have a right to speed," says Warriner. "They are focusing on the negative side of all this when they should be focusing on the positive."
Outrage against the practice began growing in September 2008, with news that the DPS was expanding the program to 60 fixed cameras and 40 mobile units around the state. Amid a backlash, the expansion halted in January at 36 fixed cameras and 42 mobile units. State legislators are considering legislation to dismantle the program.
One thing that bothers state Rep. Rich Crandall (R), a cosponsor of a bill to end the program, is that the photo radar is not just a stop-motion camera but that images are recorded almost as in a motion picture. He worries that someone's spouse may subpoena photo-radar records with the idea of searching for infidelity – a use that has nothing to do with traffic safety.
"Being monitored like that is the epitome of Big Brother," he says, in reference to George Orwell's ever-watchful dictator in his classic novel "1984." "And there are many who consider it an invasion of privacy."
Law enforcement officials are on record saying that Georgianni's death will not stop the program.
"If you hate photo radar, and you want to have an impact, you shouldn't be doing anything like vigilantism," Jan Strauss, a former police chief in Mesa, Ariz., told The Arizona Republic. "If you don't like it, go to the public forum. Start a public debate. Going out on your own, breaking the law doing destructive things, isn't the answer."