One population that hasn’t been falling in the Baltimore area is our population of speed cameras. We’ve got them in the city, and plenty more in the suburbs. Many speed cameras are kept inside vans parked at schools and work zones, among other locations.
And apparently there’s something significantly more frustrating about being caught speeding by a machine and sent a ticket in the mail than being pulled over the old-fashioned way, because the stationary cameras as well as the vans have been getting roughed up a bit lately.
One van on the Balt-Wash Parkway was smashed up by man wielding a shotgun and a A 50-year-old man in Ellicott City channeled his inner Dennis the Menace when he used a slingshot to pelt marbles at a speed van on Tuesday. Last year, on the Balt-Wash Parkway, a man grabbed a hammer and a shotgun and smashed the windshield of one of the vans.
I imagine a lot of these incidents are crimes of passion, but I wonder if any of them are premeditated. I know when I’m getting ready for a day of speeding I like to scout out my route, make sure it’s clear, and then drive back to the starting point and just feel that unlawful level of wind in my hair. Perhaps others black out the speed cameras — like in a heist movie! — before embarking on their invigorating, imprudent-speed drives.
Howard County Police Chief William McMahon’s take on the spate of vandalism started out trite and quickly went off the rails: “It’s not OK for people to voice their opposition through violence. That’s not what democracy is about.” Yeah, and it’s not what baseball is about, it’s not what ham sandwiches are about, it’s not what The Great Gatsby is about, it’s not what tax accounting is about — I could go on and on. But seriously, leaving aside the questionable use of the word violence, I don’t see a need to inflate this vandalism into crime against democracy per se. Instead of smashing up these speed camera vans, should they have just pulled over for a moment and voted?
Anyway, speaking of democracy, let’s have a show of hands. Who thinks the speed cameras should stay?
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