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Letter from the Editor – Plate reader call was correct

Prince Frederick, MD - The Calvert County Commissioners created a bit of a social media buzz this week regarding their 4-to-1 decision to approve a budget adjustment for the purchase of two license plate readers (LPRs). The LPRs will be installed in a location where vehicles crossing the north county line on Route 4 can have their plates read and recorded. The sheriff’s office made the request. The funds for the LPRs do not come from tax coffers but from revenue raked from school zone speeders. The cameras that record those indiscretions are controversial enough. The LPRs appear to give even more heartburn to people who feel like local authorities are doing just a little bit too much watching and listening these days.

The only commissioner opposed to the plan was Pat Nutter, who was a part of local law enforcement back when that profession was more shoe-leather and not so much high tech. Many concur with Nutter regarding the seemingly alarming trend of high tech surveillance in society. One Facebook poster labeled the commissioners’ action “a horrible decision.” Another poster theorized that divorce lawyers could subpoena the data recorded when trying to prove adultery. Seriously? Has divorce American-style become that much of a blood sport?

Those indicating support—or at least no objection to the LPRs have posted such comments as “obey the law, then you have nothing to worry about.” I must concede I share those sentiments. Several years ago a Denton, MD police officer told a Washington, DC magazine that people driving through the Eastern Shore town who got pulled over for exceeding the speed limit shouldn’t feel outraged by a policeman’s actions. “If you ain’t speeding there ain’t a trap,” the officer stated.

Going forward, what there does need to be is more public discourse on how to prudently expend speed camera revenues. The money is supposed to be used for public safety. It should not strictly be a wish-list fund for local law enforcement. Keep in mind, as people become more acclimated to the presence of the speed cameras there will be fewer citations issued and the revenue will dwindle. That is a good thing.

There has been nothing secret about the added oversight of public roads in Calvert County. Furthermore, driving is still a privilege regulated by the state, not a Constitutional right. Citing motorists for violations and recording a license plate number, which could in the long run lead to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator of a major crime is appropriate. Law enforcement and local government are well within their purview on this matter. Citizens are by no means helpless on this issue. They can watch their local officials and law enforcement, too.

The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the management of TheBayNet.com.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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