5/1/2009Group Calls on Arizona State Police Chief to Step Down
Anti-speed camera group wants Arizona state police Director Roger Vanderpool and Lieutenant James Warriner to pack their bags for playing politics.
Two dozen activists surrounded the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) headquarters yesterday and called on Governor Jan Brewer (R) to fire the agency's leadership. The group Camerafraud.com insisted that DPS Director Roger Vanderpool and the DPS spokesman James Warriner must go because they have lost sight of what a law enforcement officer should be. Instead, the group claimed that the department is improperly expending taxpayer resources on a political lobbying effort. The group cited Warriner's statement in a news conference last month which blamed the murder of a photo radar van driver on the groups opposed to the use of speed cameras as a prime example.
"You could almost say they've led to this too because of their protests -- the encouragement of people to strike out," Warriner said.
Protesters countered Warriner's claim by pointing out that the man being held for shooting the Redflex van driver had nothing to do with the Camerafraud, which offers photo radar opponents a peaceful way to express their opinion. Over the past twelve months, the group has held thirty-seven events to rally support for a formal petition to give Arizona voters an up-or-down vote on whether to end photo enforcement. Signs at yesterday's protest called Vanderpool and Warriner "un-American" for exploiting the tragedy to score political points and shut down the referendum effort.
"The 'vocal criticism' of government you so loathe and fear is an established right in any true, free society," the group explained on its website. "The lack of such public input would be indicative of at best a banana republic, or at worst a demoralized police state."
While Camerafraud's activities have been peaceful, the same cannot be said for DPS officers under Vanderpool's watch. In March, a jury awarded $125,000 to the family of a mentally unstable black youth who was shot and killed by one of Vanderpool's officers in 2005. The incident, caught on a dashboard camera, showed the youth, Joseph Moi, throw a rock at Officer Travis Palmer. That enraged Palmer who fired three times, with the fatal shot hitting Moi in the back of the head as Moi was running away.
Although Camerafraud members attempted to contact DPS officials during the protest, DPS declined to respond.