Aug 14, 2007

Big Brother is watching you


A neighbor writes in to note:

This morning I awoke to a new surveillance camera installed atop the "Welcome to Capitol Hill" sign located just west of 23rd on John Street. I called the police to find out what the deal was since they hadn't even left a note with us and they said it would be there for a day to see how bad the red light violators are at that intersection (BTW, I have no idea how many people run red lights there but it IS a dangerous corner). Nevertheless, the cop did say it may permanently reside on the sign (over my dead body of course) once it goes through some permit procedure or it may be located somewhere else. The cop also said that the only images that would be captured would be (I'm paraphrasing) "pictures of the back of a car [traveling eastbound on John Street] and no images of people in the car (driver or passenger)".

Anyway, I thought you'd like to know that going forward people entering Capitol Hill via John Street will see the nice "Welcome to Capitol Hill" sign - with a police surveillance camera on it. And one last thing, the camera will NOT be used for anything other than catching red light violators so I assume any images obtained by the camera cannot be used (i) to prosecute any hit and run accident occurring at the intersection (other than simply citing someone traveling eastbound on John Street for driving through a red light), (ii) as evidence of the thriving - albeit diminished - drug trade going on across the street at the bus stop, (iii) by a victim in suing a driver who plows through a red light from any of the OTHER directions (other than eastbound on John - I assume a plaintiff would have access to the image if the defendant was cited for running a red light), or (iv) by one of the many people who legally park their car on John Street only to have it smashed by a Metro Bus making a right turn onto westbound John Street (it happens A LOT).

And last, the issue really isn't (or shouldn't be) that people run red lights - rather it is (or should be) that there have been a lot of accidents at that intersection due to drivers' speeds and the inane traffic light pattern that the entire city experiences. Citing people for running a red light WILL NOT make that corner safer. Also, I don't want to rant here, but why is that only with the closure of I-5 is the city finally looking into making the traffic light pattern more efficient?

Anyway, if you'd like to post something on your blog, you can probably just address the big issue here - We're living on Capitol Hill and now the police are putting cameras up...

1 comment:

45 year Capitol Hill resident said...

What is the difference between a traffic cop on the beat and camera? the camera is cheaper and allows the cops to take longer breaks at local coffee shops, enhancing efforts at community policing. What's wrong with cameras to discourage drugs and thugs whether they are in or out of cars? We have courts and political process that safeguards our civil liberties. A camera is just a way for our civil servants in law enforcement to be more places at once.