Sunday, September 22, 2013

Let's Play "Hide the Speed Camera"

If fleecing motorists with visible speed cameras in 15 north county municipalities wasn't bad enough, now there's a new, even more secret way to get into your wallet you as you drive through at least one these cash-strapped towns:  Welcome to Country Club Hills.

What does this innocent white box look like to you? 

Courtesy:  KMOV
You might think it's a traffic signal control device.  It's designed this way for a reason. 

So you don't notice it. 

I'm a little surprised they haven't designed one that looks like a tree or a flag pole.  The first time you'll realize a camera is there, is when the ticket comes in the mail. 

Remember, the mayors and councils of these communities are interested in your safety, not the money these cameras bring into their city coffers.  

If you don't believe it's for safety, pick up a copy of the St. Louis American newspaper this week.  There's a large paid ad in the paper that proves it's for safety.  The headline is, "Speed Cameras Save Lives."  Incidentally, at the bottom of the ad, in much smaller print, you can see the ad was paid for by "St. Louis County Municipalities."  What it should have said was, "Paid for by St. Louis County Municipalities that need your money."

Their usual argument is, "Don't speed and you won't get a ticket."  That's partially true.  However, when you put an artificially low speed limit on a major roadway, it's almost impossible NOT to speed.  They know that.  The cameras are well-placed in order to generate as many violations as possible.  Some cameras are set up to issue tickets for going as little as 3mph over the speed limit.  Most cops know the speed limits are too low on many major streets, so they compensate by tolerating a higher speed before issuing a ticket.  I cannot remember ever issuing a speeding ticket unless it was for more than 10mph over the limit.  On major roads or on hills, you might tolerate more, depending on the normal flow of traffic.  Cameras have no discretion.  They cannot educate a motorist on the dangers of speeding.  They can only issue tickets.

Want to know why you don't see speed cameras on subdivision streets?  Not enough traffic or enough violators to pay for the camera and make money for the town.  Also, the last thing you want to do is start issuing tickets to town residents who can vote out the elected officials.  You really have to put them on major roads that pass through town, so you get non-residents. 

I still say they should put these speed cameras up at the intersection of I-270 and Highway 40 in West County.  There's enough influential people that drive that route every day that can afford the resources needed to ban them.  These big-dollar motorists could get together, hire a lobbying firm, make big campaign contributions to elected officials and get them banned from our state.  By the way, that's how the camera companies stay in business. 

As long as municipalities and private camera companies continue to feed off of some of the poorest people in the St. Louis region, it would appear that nobody really cares.


  1. Chief: Your dead on again, as usual. Keep up the GREAT work.

    Ken Dye

  2. Chief,

    I am surprised and disappointed that you would publicly criticize another law enforcement agency, especially in your own venue, for how they choose to conduct speed enforcement.

    As far as the boxes being inconspicuous, I'm sure that your Officers place signs to let the public know that they are over the hill or on the other side of the curve conducting speed enforcement. I witnessed several St. Louis County vehicles along the interstate this weekend and I can assure you that they don't.

    Also, are you saying that you don't condone tickets issued that are for less than 10 MPH over the speed limit? Or are you saying that speed limits can be ignored all together as long as it's with the, "normal flow of traffic?" That seems contrary to what a Police Officer does.

    It also sounds like you are advocating issuing tickets based on income. Have you instructed your Officers to take into consideration whether the person that has been pulled over is one of the, "poorest people in the St. Louis region." If so, how do they evaluate that? Should I start carrying my prior years tax return to prove that I'm poor enough not to receive a ticket?

    I by no means believe that Law Enforcement Agencies should be used as a revenue device for their respective venues. I do believe that people should obey the law and that if they do not, the Police have the unfortunate task of enforcing those laws.

    I expected more from you, Chief.

    1. Sorry to disappoint you. By the way, my criticism is directed at those that set policy and enact ordinances - the Mayor and Council. The police departments of these communities have to enforce their ordinances - even if they don't agree with them. Some of these police departments are told to issue a lot of tickets, or they will be out of a job, because the city cannot tax their residents and businesses any further to support city services. A police officers' salary should NEVER be based on the amount of revenue brought in by the same officers enforcing the law. It's just wrong. If a city wants to be a city and wants to have their own city services, they should tax THEMSELVES not people driving through the city.

  3. I so agree with Chief Fitch

  4. I totally agree with the Chief, How many of these camera's do you see in West County ? Also who is monitoring St. Ann on their speed trap, how many near accidents or accidents have their officers created while they attempt to pull over a speeding driver? Where is the money going? Does not seem like it is helping out the communities in anyway?

    1. What about St. Ann? Go down I-70 on Memorial Day and you will see 7-8 police vehicles stacked one behind the other chasing speeders. St. Ann has 38 sworn officers on their department. Four are detectives. Depending on how many officers are on duty, who's watching the rest of the town?

    2. Why wait for Memorial Day? They have that many every Saturday out there,

  5. This is the future of "speed traps", technology combined with desperation. These municipalities wont hire police officers. Just notice the areas. These are the same places that hired uncertified "reserve police officers" and put them on the streets up to 10 years ago. We know the cameras are there...bypass those areas and make it "safe" for those communities who are concerned about "safety". Thank you for being a realist and not a politician.

  6. Wow. Great article. We need to continue to dissolve the unnecessary municipalities in St. Louis. Municipalities like St. George, Bella Villa, Bel Ridge, Beverly Hills, etc., are full of corruption and revenue scams like this and need to be absorbed into St. Louis county.

  7. Absolutely correct!!! It's time for the citizens in these areas to stand up and say something; Either that, or risk a constant array of tickets for driving 2 miles over the limit. The reason you don't see these things in Wildwood, Ladue or other affluent neighborhoods is because 1) They have a large tax base and do not need to generate this type of income 2) They have a powerful constituency that would holler too loud if one of these were placed in their area!

  8. I'm happy someone in the local government is finally acknowledging that these cameras are nothing, but a money grab. If they truly cared about speeding the tickets would add points to your license. As it stands right now you aren't even allowed to appeal the ticket, until after the fine is due. Its a scare tactic, because I waited for a court date and it never came, all I got was another chance to pay the ticket.. I guess they know they will lose in court.

  9. So if you get one of these tickets what can you do about it??

  10. Chief, you are dead on with both your observations and your understanding of the role "Real LEO's" play in educating the public as well as enforcing the law. At the very least a sign and a visible camera may arguably encourage safe driving but the stealth camera and subsequent ticket fall squarely into economic gain unless the ticket only involves a 5 dollar fine, no court cost and having to listening to a prerecorded phone message from the Mayor on the dangers of speeding.

    The reality is that these private companies can to often convince a cash strapped municipality to turn the Law Enforcement of "speeding" over to them with dollar signs as the bait, thereafter that municipality's economic gain becomes the witness to other similarly situated cites and in "isolation" any jurisdiction can make a choice that only makes sense (cents) to a few people.

    Chaplain Jordan

  11. How can you find out where these vile things are located?

  12. Thank you for standing up for the people.

  13. Since the cameras are for the sake of safety and certainly not a revenue source for the town, why not create a Mo State law that fines collected as the result of camera operations would be directed to the local school district? The school districts are certainly in need of additional revenue. This situation would would be a win for everyone. The motoring public would be much safer with reduced speeds and children would benifit with a better education. Who could ever complain?

  14. I'm a widowed mom of 2 & I can't afford food and I'm not from north county but got 3 tickets going to and from a payday loan place on Ashby and Hoech in the midsummer after 3 pm for going 11 miles over the ridiculous 20 mph limit I didn't know was enforced in summer. I've asked everyone I can, could someone please help me? -Rebecca

  15. It is time that the MO legislature ban the speed cameras like OH is working on.
    camerafraud on Facebook

  16. By the way guess how many people are REALLY killed by exceeding the speed limit????

    "State Reports Show Speeding Not a Significant Cause of Accidents
    Analysis of data from twenty-five states confirms exceeding the speed limit is not a significant cause of accidents.

    Speed accident chartsOut of 2.7 million traffic accidents recorded in twenty-five states over the course of a year, only 1.6 percent were caused by drivers who exceeded the posted speed limit. The figures come from an analysis by TheNewspaper of annual reports typically compiled by each state for use in applying for grant money from the National Highway Transportation Agency (NHTSA)."

    Source: PDF File State Reported Crash Contributing Factors (TheNewspaper, 5/25/2012)

    UK: Speed Camera Officials Caught Lying with Statistics
    Officials claim an impossible reduction in accidents from the use of speed cameras.

    Wiltshire and Swindon Camera PartnershipThe Wiltshire and Swindon Safety Camera Partnership claims that three months of speed camera usage on the M4 highway in the UK has slashed serious road accidents by 64 percent. "This dramatic reduction in crashes is as a direct result of our strategy to enforce the national speed limit on this section of the motorway, no other changes have been made to slow traffic down or to make the road any safer," explained David Frampton, the Project Manager for the camera partnership.

    That sounds like a significant benefit, except road safety experts say the camera officials are lying. "There is absolutely no mechanism by which their claims could be true," said Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign.

    The Association of British Drivers (ABD) fought with the camera partnership for release of crash data under the Freedom of Information Act. According to the documents, the crashes cited in the formal justification for the placement of cameras on the M4 include:•an accident where a pedestrian fell from a bridge
    •an accident where a gust of wind pushed one truck into another
    •several tire blowout accidents
    •a crash where a car drove the wrong way
    According to Smith, the accident data show that only about four percent of accidents on the M4 were actually caused by exceeding a posted limit. The documents rated the most and least important contributory factors as a percentage of accidents on the M4, as follows:1.Inattention: 28%
    2.Failure to judge others' path or speed (i.e. poor lane-changing): 28%
    3.Lack of judgment of own path: 17%
    4.Fatigue: 14%
    5.Careless, thoughtless or reckless behavior:14%
    6.Excess speed for conditions: 14%
    7.Exceeding posted speed limit: 4.2% (SafeSpeed estimate)

  18. It's no wonder why more and more people are starting to deploy countermeasures to red light and radar traffic cameras. Here's the link to the site of a company that specializes in such countermeasures, and it's owned by a retired LEO:

    Such products allow an officer following directly behind you to read your plate crystal clear, but obscures the plate to cameras that are positioned at off-axis angles to the road.

  19. Chief Fitch's common sense reasoning, from facts that are readily observable by anyone, makes it clear that speed cameras have nothing to do with safety, they are there for revenue. I am very pleased that he is saying this, and it is long overdue that someone within the govt says. Politically this is difficult and takes courage. Thank you, Chief Fitch!

  20. Authorities Admit to Scamming the Public in Red Light Camera Fraud Nationwide:


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