The Politics of Freeway Cameras

Wednesday, April 27, 2005, at 03:16PM

By Eric Richardson

It's interesting to note the reaction to the recent freeway shootings that have taken place around LA. The Long Beach Press Telegram has an article today calling for Caltrans to record the freeway cameras so that law enforcement can use them as evidence to help in solving freeway crimes.

A veteran California Highway Patrol supervisor with an extensive background in freeway shooting investigations said the CHP and other agencies have repeatedly asked Caltrans to hook up the cameras to recording devices.

"They basically say they don't care about being in the crime- fighting business and claim poverty ... even though ... every 7-Eleven has a system. They are prevalent in Europe and at intersections throughout the United States. They are universally successful,' said the officer, while noting Caltrans' multimillion-dollar spending on its new 14-story office building in downtown Los Angeles.

A couple weeks ago my class went to visit the ATSAC center under City Hall East. That's where all of the LADOT traffic cameras pipe to. This was before the freeway shootings, but this was a topic that came up. Like Caltrans, LADOT doesn't really want to get involved in law enforcement. They don't want people seeing their cameras and viewing them as evidence that needs to be "taken care of." I would imagine that while officially Caltrans may say things about funding and such, they really just don't want to get the big brother stigma attached to their cameras.