12/5/2008Copycat Pickaxe Attack on Arizona Speed Cam
Arizona pickaxe attack on a speed camera mimics a Czech Republic assault from the previous month.
Arizona state police on Wednesday arrested a man suspected of whacking a speed camera with a pickaxe. The incident took place in the city of Glendale just before midnight near the 59th Street overpass on the Loop 101 freeway. Police estimate the camera was hit at least six times in an attack quite similar to one that took place in the Czech Republic last month. Arizona Department of Public Safety officials wasted no time in exploiting the incident to discourage anti-camera activism.
"From criminal damage charges to charges related to interfering with judicial proceedings that can carry lengthy jail terms and hefty fines, the ramifications a person could face for tampering with a photo enforcement site are extremely serious," DPS Director Roger Vanderpool said in a statement. "DPS Officers will continue to be vigilant at all hours of the day and night and stand ready to respond quickly to reports or first hand observances of persons tampering with or vandalizing photo enforcement sites in any manner."
Camerafraud.com, the primary group opposing cameras in the state, distanced itself from the attack. Camerafraud believes it can defeat photo enforcement at the ballot box, and that such incidents play into the hands of a publicity machine funded by those who profit from photo ticketing.
"It's unfortunate that the person chose not to follow the example of Rosa Parks or Gandhi, both of whom protested against oppressive government by thoughtfully and peacefully breaking the laws they felt to be unjust," the group said in a statement. "The person arrested was not member of Camerafraud.com's public Meetup group."
The 26-year-old accused of the crime faces felony criminal damage charges carrying up to three years in prison and a $150,000 fine. DPS stated its intention to add a charge for "interference with a traffic control device," but this charge is likely to be dropped. The federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices recognizes only signs, traffic signals and markings as falling under the category of traffic control devices. That means a "Photo Enforced" sign, but not the camera itself, would be considered a traffic control device. The same distinction is found in Arizona Revised Statutes 28-601 where "photo enforcement system" is explicitly defined apart from "official traffic control device."
Vanderpool had threatened to use the same traffic control device charge against the unknown individuals who placed non-destructive Post-It Notes on the lenses of speed cameras as a political statement.
Australian ticket camera provider Redflex replaced the damaged speed camera housing so that ticketing could resume by 11am Thursday.