School’s Out For The Summer

If there was an official announcement from the Mayor’s office I can not find it, but since he was out recently announcing the start of the summer meal programs, it seems safe to assume that the Providence’s school zone surveillance apparatus has been unplugged for the next two months. State law says:

The automated school-zone-speed-enforcement system shall be operational only from seven o’clock a.m. (7:00 a.m.) to six o’clock p.m. (6:00 p.m.) on school days of the promulgated one-hundred-eighty-day (180) school calendar year adopted in the applicable community.

Still, don’t drive like an idiot.

So what has been happening to the money generated by this program? Wheeler Cowperthwaite reported in the ProJo on some recent tweaking in the latest city budget:

All but 35% of the profit from the city’s school zone speed cameras and red light cameras will mostly go into the general fund. That’s a change from last year when City Council President Rachel Miller, following testimony by PVD Streets Coalition‘s Liza Burkin, amended the budget to steer 75% of the revenue into the city’s fund that deals with pedestrian safety.

Remember when overly-elaborate crosswalk striping began appearing at quiet neighborhood intersections where nothing bad had ever happened? That seemed wasteful and ugly, but now comes much worse news:

As WPRI-TV reported, the police recently used money from the school-zone speed cameras and red light cameras to buy an armored police vehicle, a “BearCat G3,” built on an F-550 chassis, for $350,000.

Aargghh. I’ve been railing against the militarization of local police departments for over a decade. Fortunately, our former Chief of Police Hugh Clements never went in for this sort of thing. His radical approach to preserving the peace was going out in the community and talking to people. As Radley Balko wrote in his book “The Rise of the Warrior Cop: the Militarization of America’s Police Forces”

. . . when you arm a cop like a soldier, when you dress ‘em like a soldier, when you tell ‘em to fight in a war and then send ‘em out into a neighborhood that he has no stake in and doesn’t consider himself a part of, you get a very antagonistic, us-versus-them relationship between the officer and that community.

My message to Colonel Oscar Perez: Nip this in the bud . . . sell your new toy now.

1 thought on “School’s Out For The Summer”

  1. Karen McAninch

    I just got a ticket for June 24, northbound on Blackstone Blvd. near Lincoln School. It would appear that Lincoln School classes were over long before that date. Will I have to go to court to get that taken care of, do you think?

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