January 18, 2006

Police state, Pt II

A great shot captured by QC Times photographer John Shultz as a part of a piece in the Times shows one of several arrays of high-tech equipment recently installed in Davenport designed to snare ever more motorists for speeding and/or red light violations.

The equipment is given to the city free of charge by the company which markets them in exchange for a cut of the fines collected.

This little scheme must be extremely profitable, as the same company also gave the city a mobile van equipped with their gear in which an officer sits concealed while aiming high tech lasers and cameras at motorists in order to nab violators.

The cops are nabbing anyone exceeding the limit by 12 mph for 90 days, but will then start sweeping up people going as little as 10 mph over the limit and 8 mph over in school zones.

Boy.. I don't know about you, but I'm no leadfoot around town. But if I got a ticket every time I exceeded 40 mph, I'd have a lot of tickets in a year. If this trend continues and expands and these inhuman robo-cop things were installed everwhere, there'd barely be any drivers left with a valid license.

It's a fact that there's several hilly 30 mph zones just in Moline alone where you have to ride your brakes for a very long time just to stay within the limit. You can easily reach 40 mph just coasting. Cops already frequently work these little goldmines as it is, but imagine if there was an inhuman "cop" stationed there 24/7.

It remains to be seen just how agressive the police will be with these devices.
Are these measures proper? Is the arrangement between the supplier of this equipment and the police department proper or ethical? Where is the balance between public safety and simply providing an ever increasing revenue stream (and profits). Should the profit motive be so closely linked to law enforcement?

These measures pose many questions as well as the larger question of the increasing militarization of local police departments.

A prior post on the subject and the comments from it may serve as a beginning of further discussion here.

And though it would be wrong, wrong, wrong, it's not hard to imagine some disgruntled libertarian who's sick of getting tickets breaking out his rifle and scope and simply picking off these "birds of prey" on their perches.

Are you comfortable with these high-tech, militaristic trends in local law enforcement and what it portends for the future? Once these measures are accepted, they will doubtless expand and get ever more intrusive and unyielding. (Though of course, if you're "unyielding", you'd likely get a ticket.)


At 1/18/2006 6:32 AM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

What I'd like to see is some millionaire just go screaming past them every day, since they don't count against your license.

At 1/18/2006 8:23 AM, Blogger Iowa Libertarian said...

I really wish you hadn't succumbed to the stereotype and mused about a libertarian shooting out these robo-cops. Libertarians know that's destroying someone else's property which isn't a legit thing to do.

But I really wanted to comment on "Should the profit motive be so closely linked to law enforcement?"

Considering the billions that go to police departments nationwide via asset forfeitures even where no criminal conviction is ever obtained, it's clear that the profit motive has been significantly linked to law enforcement for awhile now. That Pandora's Box has already been opened.

At 1/18/2006 11:03 AM, Anonymous Cassandra said...

Yes, I'm for it.

Automobile accidents kill a lot of people each year, and speeding (usually combined with drinking)
is a leading cause of the carnage.

Police are also freed up to work on preventing and solving other crimes less amenable to control by technology.

There are also many other possibilities...for example, telemonitoring of high risk children needing oversight by medical and/or child protection authorities, to name only a couple
of examples.

At 1/18/2006 12:12 PM, Anonymous puzzler said...

The last time I was in Peoria, I heard about a great anitque mall downtown. It wasn't clear to me how long I was allowed to park in my metered parking space, but the rest of the meters were one-hour meters so I assumed mine was too. It wasn't, and when I returned to my car I had a $10 parking ticket for parking 40 minutes in a 30-minute space. I will never revisit downtown Peoria. If I came from out-of-town to spend my time and money in Davenport and two weeks later got a ticket in the mail for driving 36 in a 30, I wouldn't be returning to Davenport anytime soon.

At 1/18/2006 1:37 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Iowa Libertarian,
You're right, I used that term too broadly. I just wanted to indicate that it might be someone who opposed this intrusion and rather large leap in to further controling and regulationg people's lives and behaviors, hench I thought of a libertarian outlook.

Thanks for making that distinction.

At 1/18/2006 1:41 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Cassandra. Interesting to hear from someone who welcomes big brother.

Regarding the monitoring of high-risk children, wouldn't it be better to have a person checking in on the situation more often rather than paying them to sit somewhere spying on people from a remote location?

Something about this is chillingly Orwellian. Taken to it's logical ends, half the population might some day be sitting around spying on the other half.

At 1/18/2006 6:11 PM, Anonymous Romkey said...

There isn't "something ... chillingly Orwellian" about this. It IS chillingly Orwellian. I'd say something about us being on a slipery slope but that would be a cliche.


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