Nanny State

Maryland to Install New Cameras…to Monitor Its Traffic Cameras


Apparently, some people do not like Maryland's speeding cameras, at least judging by the fact that they have vandalized those cameras on multiple occasions, setting one on fire and shooting another with a gun. A man in Howard County apparently shot marbles at a speeding camera van this summer. There have been a handful of other indicidents as well. 

The can't-make-this-up response of Prince George's County officials to problems with camera vandalism? More cameras. To monitor the cameras. Really. Via WTOP:

Many people find speed cameras frustrating, and some in the region are taking their rage out on the cameras themselves.

But now there's a new solution: cameras to watch the cameras.

One is already in place, and Prince George's County Police Maj. Robert V. Liberati hopes to have up to a dozen more before the end of the year.

"It's not worth going to jail over a $40 ticket or an arson or destruction of property charge," says Liberati.

Liberati is the Commander of the Automated Enforcement Section, which covers speed and red-light cameras.

Liberati, who is part of the county's Automated Enforcement Section, notes that it costs between $30,000 and $100,000 to replace a camera. This, he says, represents "a significant loss in the program." If saving money is the goal, however, wouldn't it be cheaper to simply remove all of the cameras rather than put in additional units, which are apparently quite expensive to install and maintain, and which create additional risks of vandalism-related expenses?

One also has to wonder about the logical end point of this approach. If someone shoots marbles or bullets at one of the new camera-monitoring cameras, will the state follow up by installing a third layer of cameras, to watch the cameras that were supposed to be watching the speed cameras? And what if someone destroys those? How many layers of expensive camera watching cameras will it take for the plan to be cost effective? This does not seem like a money saving plan. 

But perhaps saving money is not the real motivation for installing the cameras. The story also notes that "the Prince George's County Police Department decided it needed to catch the vandals, or at least deter them." It is not clear, however, why anyone who was already willing to destroy a state-operated speeding camera would not also be willing to destroy a state-operated speeding camera monitor camera. 

Liberati has a final reason for installing the new cameras. Speeding camera vandalism, he says, "takes a camera off the street that operates and slows people down. So there's a loss of safety for the community." Apparently he thinks it's safer for the state to not only operate cameras that attract gunfire and arson, but also to install additional cameras which may attract more such activity. 

One thing the state is absolutely not attempting to do is protect a revenue source. According to WTOP, "Liberati says the cameras aren't a case of Big Brother nor a cash grab, police are simply trying to keep the public safe from reckless drivers." Of course not.

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  1. If someone shoots marbles or bullets at one of the new camera-monitoring cameras, will the state follow up by installing a third layer of cameras

    It’s cameras all the way down. /Captain Obvious

    1. If someone shoots marbles or bullets at

      I always figured a high powered hand laser would be able to burn out one of those cameras from quite a distance. Any engineers here (or others with applicable knowledge) dispute that?

    2. We could put the cameras on turtles!

  2. Who watches the watchers?

    1. Watcher watchers.

    2. Just have a ring of cameras all facing each other.

      1. So it’s all a big camera circle jerk?

  3. Who is the manufacturer of the camera? I live in Murland, hon, and I say set Crony detector on high alert and we will see THE REAL REASON why these new cameras are being installed, and it has nothing to do with catching a few camera vandals. Someone just won some newly printed crony dollars.

    1. Your skepticism warms my blackened little heart.

      1. Can you really afford for it to catch on fire again?

        1. His love burns with a fire than will never go out.

    2. Can’t it be both? My understanding of P.G. County is that the government’s employees love to beat, shoot, murder, steal, and engage in obvious graft. But it’s still better to live there than the District, so they still have a growing population. Suckers.

      1. I imagine it’s a combo of cronyism, cash grab, and being pissed off that someone challenged their authoritah. I mean, isn’t it always?

    3. I read an article somewhere else about the ridiculous proliferation of speeding cameras in Maryland (way more than any nearby state), and it pointed out specific instances of manufacturers lobbying for these at the local level.

      1. They also had an election.

        Bob Ehrlich was anti speed camera, and made that clear. O’Malley was pro speed camera, and made that clear. Ehrlich had vetoed bills allowing more speed cameras. O’Malley had signed them, and had called for more speed cameras.

        O’Malley won. Twice. Marylanders want speed cameras, damn their eyes.

  4. Does your wife like photgraphy? Does she like phographs? I’ll bet she does! I’ll bet she does!

    Does she like CANDID photgraphy? Is she a goer, eh? A goer? CANDID photography, say no more, say no more, nudge nudge wink wink a nod’s a good as a wink to a blind man, eh? Eh?

    1. She likes to watch.

  5. This is setting up like a video game challenge, where you have to spot and take out the cameras in the right order before you take out the Boss Camera.

    1. Awesome bonus points for doing it right.

    2. Haha, I was thinking something like that. Also, is it possible to create a configuration in which there is no “weak” camera, such that all cameras are both watched and watching?

      1. When you put on a mask for your camera destroying activities, all cameras are weak cameras.

      2. 360 degree coverage, including the sky and night vision out to at least 500 yards. That would be some camera system.

  6. Also, Suderman with the wonderful Alt Text AGAIN.

    *another golf clap*

  7. omg. that video is pretty fucking over the top. who is the narrator?


    1. Them cameruhs is takin; yer jobzzz, Dunph!!

      1. oh noes!

        i actually write very vrey very few tickets. leave that shit for the rookies.

        there are a few things to be said for these cameras (i’m against them , but just to be fair)

        1) no bias. they don’t racially profile (granted, systemic racial profiling is a media myth, but i digress)
        2) no double standard. our chief has made it clear that if an officer gets one of these tickets in a patrol car, UNLESS they are running code (lights and siren), they will pay them or contest them just like anybody else.
        3) they don’t search your car for dope,call a drug dog, etc.

        iow, the pure objective nature is nice. no favoritism, racism, sexism, ageism, or any ‘ism, ferris. purely behavior based

        again, i’m against them but many of the grumbles about cops and tickets (fair or not) are eliminated by the camera tickets (the racial profiling, uneven enforcement, etc.)

        btw, i go into surgery tomorrow, so I’ll be here plenty in the next few weeks to wank about stuff instead of out on the street “harassing” people with my evul terry stops!!!

        1. 2) no double standard. our chief has made it clear that if an officer gets one of these tickets in a patrol car, UNLESS they are running code (lights and siren), they will pay them or contest them just like anybody else.

          Once again, your department is an outlier. What are the odds?

        2. Dunphy is quite often full of shit, but he’s got a point.

          Specifically speaking, I’d much rather deal with a ticket I received via mail from a camera than have to deal with a cop who has pulled me over for speeding.

          In the former instance, there is zero chance I go to jail. In the latter, the chance is more than zero that not only will it be unpleasant, but that much worse things can happen (even if those chances on any one particular instance are exceedingly low).

          1. you wanna know what is fucked up?

            when they ok’d the traffic cameras the (morons) specifically included a provision that the pictures could ONLY be used for traffic enforcement.

            seattle has experienced some violent crime, to include murder, in several locations near traffic cameras. presumably by checking the photos around the timeframe of the crime, there is the chance some leads could be developed , license plate #’s recovered etc. to check out.

            but they CAN’T

            because they can ONLY be used for traffic enforcement.

            homicide investigation? no way



            note, we are talking about photos taken on a public road. it’s total open view shit. no privacy concerns. ANYBODY, a cop, or any “citizen” can place a camera in a public place and snap photos of cars or video or whatever. and of course, THAT would be used in an investigation

            1. but they CAN’T

              because they can ONLY be used for traffic enforcement.

              homicide investigation? no way

              These provisions were necessary due to the fact that cops will abuse any technology or law in order to prosecute crimes against the state. Blame vice. It’s a reaction to their tactics.

              1. The ability to catch murderers, rapists, and armed robbers is more important to me than protecting people who break stupid laws. And you’re ONLY protecting lawbreakers with that policy. Unlike warrantless searches etc, cameras in public places have no negative effect on innocent people.

                1. How are you harmed by a search if you’re not breaking a stupid law? Inconvenienced, maybe. Kinda like you’re inconvenienced by sitting at a red light at 2 in the fucking morning with no one around for several miles except the camera.

                2. right. there’s not even ANY privacy issue.

                  the reason they are not searchable for homicides etc. is because they wrote legislation specifically prohibiting it. otherwise, it would be okey dokey because we are talking shit at a public intersection

                  unlike some here (rolls eyes), i’m entirely consistent here. shit that happens in public – is PUBLIC

                  people videotaping cops. no problemo

                  cops videotaping intersections. no problemo.

                  private persons videotaping intersections. again, no problemo

                  people who would be against police accessing this stuff for investigations are the funhouse mirror people. these are the ones who think DUI shouldn’t be illegal unless somebody is injured

                  it’s that lunatic mindset.

                  this statute is essentially a legislative version of “stop snitching” without the cool hip hop lyrics and street cred

                  1. people who would be against police accessing this stuff for investigations are the funhouse mirror people. these are the ones who think DUI shouldn’t be illegal unless somebody is injured

                    it’s that lunatic mindset.

                    Yep, all those crazy people who know that .08 causes less impairment to the average person than: otc cold medication, texting on a cellphone, talking on a cellphone, getting only 6 hours of sleep that night or changing the radio station.

                    Yeah, those people are loony. Good thing you’re one of the sane ones. I don’t know what those people are worried about anyway. How could constant surveillance ever be a problem when “the vast majority of our laws are just”, right dunphy?

                3. And you’re ONLY protecting lawbreakers with that policy.

                  What’s wrong with protecting lawbreakers? You a fan of every single law?

  8. You don’t need multiple layers of cameras, just two (or, at most, three). Two cameras have to be pointed at each other for mutual monitoring.

    It’s still idiotic.

    1. Except that I should theoretically be able to take out both of those cameras without being seen by either if I’m a pretty good shot.

      And I am.

    2. You don’t need to see the other camera, you need to see the zone from which an attack can be launched. I suspect that’s not easy.

  9. Not to repeat myself, but the Kochs should start funding autonomous drones to destroy all liberty-weakening devices and to incapacitate liberty-attacking officials.

    1. There goes the Capitol building…

      1. I wonder if some sort of mass tar-and-feathering weapon could be devised? Non-lethal but extra humiliating?

        1. One has to be capable of shame to be humiliated.

        2. A double cannon, staggered shots of non-boiling sticky goop (perhaps milked from docile herds of Wartys) and feathers.

          Humiliating, but no one can say we’re trying to burn them.

          1. Stop talking about your penis.

            1. i’ve come to the conclusion, looking over past threads, that there is a small cadre of people here (nowhere near the majority) who just are not intellectually honest, who troll incessantly, and who are more interested in personal attacks and playing “gotcha” about my penis.

              1. Stop being such a dick, SF.

                1. ^^^THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!^^^

                  1. i am going to take the high ground and continue to speak with the adults and continue to ignore the trolls like you

          2. There exist listening post devices that zero in on the sounds of explosions and gun fire. Not every community has them, but there is a high density of that service offered in the DC metro area. You need a way to get in and out of there fast.

            1. and roomer has it, you only get it up to the slow groove of Isaac Hayes.

              1. roomer — good lawd.

          3. docile herds of Wartys

            THose are a fucking myth.

    2. No more expensive than setting up a remote helicopter with a projectile thrower.

      I’ve said too much . . .

  10. So, Pro Libertate, I hear the Tampa plod like those cameras they set up for the RNC so much they’ve decided to keep them. And they will too, as long as those meddling ACLU types don’t stop them.

    1. I heard that, too. The ACLU won a battle a while back (I think–could be misremembering this one) to limit the deployment of cameras in Ybor City.

  11. Doesn’t broadcasting the high price tag merely make vandals want to vandalize them even more?

    1. Practically gives me a hard on. I can see no violations of my ethical beliefs with destroying these devices.

  12. So suddenly reason is against photography in public places.


    1. +PWND

  13. Giving up traffic laws and government funded improved roads would be one way to not be bothered by cameras.

  14. it costs between $30,000 and $100,000 to replace a camera.

    This has to be a joke.

    1. Well if you include the union labor to install it, it makes sense…

      …if you think about it.

    2. The camera comes with all sorts of accessories (weather proof, windshield wiper, etc), the government is willing to pay higher money for junk parts and it is installed with union labor so year so that price is reasonable.

  15. I don’t see the civil liberties problem with these traffic cameras. Doesn’t most camera footage of possible crimes get destroyed while in police custody anyway?

    1. Only their own crimes.

    2. There is no civil liberties problem. This is just Reason sticking it to the man or something.

      Apparently they want more cops to be hanging out at intersections instead of cameras, so that when they pull you over for running a red light they can tase you and your pets and search your ride for MJ.

      1. In Iowa, state law requires that any ticket that has an impact on your driving record be issued to the person driving the car by a real live cop.

        So localities get around that by writing laws that make a ticket issued by a camera the same thing as a parking ticket which is issued to the owner of the vehicle.

        These high-tech “parking” tickets have fines ranging up to several hundred dollars and are virtually incontestable — the owner of the vehicle has to pay or else.

        The state legislature has had bills the last two sessions to ban red-light or speeding cameras throughout the state, but the bills have not made if far.

        And of course, the cameras are run by a private company that makes shit loads of cash off these tickets.

        The whole system is an abomination.

  16. Liberati is poorly named. Can’t he change it to Tyrannus or something?

  17. The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.

  18. “Liberati, who is part of the county’s Automated Enforcement Section, notes that it costs between $30,000 and $100,000 to replace a camera.”

    It costs zero to not replace them.

  19. Yes, Reason, I understand that you don’t like red light cameras (for God knows what reason – I never heard of a RLC pulling someone over and searching their car for weed and beating and tasering them) and are willing to engage in intellectual dishonesty to oppose them. You’ve shown this time and time again.

    Quick, tell me another issue on which you’d mock a property owner attempting to cut down on vandalism by installing cameras trained on the area where vandalism is occuring.

    1. Would disagree that a second set of cameras is a dumb way to stop people that are destroying cameras?

    2. I’m a taxpayer, so I own a portion of those cameras. (Well, I’m not in Maryland, but you get the point.) Why can’t I destroy my portion of the cameras?

  20. These cameras are all about control. This response is all about politicians who can’t stand people flouting their attempts to control them.

    1. well yes. traffic laws are about control, too

      they say that, for example, if you are going to hurl a 3,000 lb piece of metal around, there are certain limitations for safety. speed limits, for example. dui laws.

      clearly, the man is trying to control us with these arbitrary, evil restrictions on our freedom to drive however we want.

      but you know what? if you are on private property, you CAN drive however you want. there is no speed limit. technically, in my state, DUI still applies but who will know?

      i’m not a fan of the camera tickets, but the idea that this is some sort of scheme for the state to CONTROL you is black helicopter, tinfoil hat overreaction

      driving is the single most dangerous thing most people do, and on a daily basis. unless you are a gangbanger or in certain high risk groups, you will probably never have anybody you know get murdered or stabbed, etc.

      but you will likely know somebody who will get maimed, hurt, or killed driving

      it’s dangerous, and the state should and does set reasonable limits on how we drive.

      1. Sounds like you’ve never gotten an $80 ticket for running a red light by 1/100th of a second. Give this a few years. The cameras will go beyond traffic enforcement. They’re just buttering us up.

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