Feathered Bastard

Road Rage: DPS Photo Enforcement Cameras Blocked with Post-It Notes

Freedom's Phoenix has the scoop on the growing Post-it note rebellion against DPS' new photo enforcement cameras.

Say you wanna revolution? I know I do every time I take the 51 through town and have to run the gauntlet of the Arizona Department of Public Safety's photo enforcement cameras. Literally, everyone slows down for the few yards it takes to put these electronic watchdogs in the rearview, then speeds right up again when they're past them. Actually, the vision that occurs in my brain is the beginning of Cool Hand Luke, with Paul Newman as the title character cutting the heads off parking meters. 'Cept this time, it ain't parking meters he's cuttin' the heads off of.

Well, no one's cutting the heads off the stationary cameras DPS has rigged around the state to catch you going 10mph over the speed limit or more, but someone is sabotaging these sinister speed traps in a most ingenious way -- by blocking the window in front of the camera with yellow Post-it notes. The local, Libertarian news site Freedom's Phoenix has the scoop:

"The end result of the mystery activists’ efforts is the placement of Post-It notes on photo scam equipment throughout the valley. Reports have surfaced that numerous cameras have been involved over the past two weeks. At least two local Phoenix television stations are known to be researching the incidents."

I rang up DPS flack Lt. James Warriner, and he confirmed that Post-it note ninjas are at work in the Valley, with at least five incidents having occurred over the last few days on SR 51, I-10, and the Loop 101. Warriner says DPS has an investigator assigned to catch the plucky roadside rebels, though DPS isn't exactly sure what the Post-it note perps would be prosecuted for, if and when they're nabbed.

"It is considered vandalism," stated Warriner. "I think they're trying to figure out with the County Attorney and stuff exactly what they can charge them with."

Gotta wonder if the authorities could make such a vandalism charge, um, stick. After all, there's no permanent damage done to the cameras. All DPS has to do is peel the Post-its off. It ain't like someone is spray-painting the camera lenses black, or bashing them in with a baseball bat. No, the Post-its are but a gentle reminder to the powers that be that these stupid rip-off devices are universally scorned by the public.

Warriner related that DPS may have to stake out the cameras' locations, which are listed on DPS' Web site, here. Perhaps even install hidden cameras to watch the devices. That's right, cameras to watch the cameras. Sounds pretty Orwellian, eh? But DPS has no choice. These photo enforcement cameras are raking in beaucoup bucks. If you're nabbed by one of them, it's a $165 fine, plus a 10% surcharge for the Clean Elections Fund, which makes for a total of about $181 and change.

And they wonder why people don't like these things.

"If it's a 65 mph or above posted area," said Warriner. "Then those [cameras] are going to be set to trigger at 10 miles over the speed limit. If it's a 55mph speed limit area, those are going to be set to trigger at 11 miles over the speed limit."

So drive accordingly people. At least till the revolution hits a freeway near you.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons