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September 2009
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License Plate Cameras

This one really set off my B.S. meter: State officials hoping to shut off drug pipeline by putting in cameras.
Huh?

Illinois officials are hoping to shut off the drug pipeline between Chicago and Mexico with a few snapshots.

Illinois State Police officials, on behalf of 13 states to the south and west of Illinois, are asking for federal stimulus money to buy hundreds of special cameras that would be placed on interstates known as frequent routes for drug-runners.

The projected cost is listed at $9.9 million.

I don’t get it.

The cameras, 242 in all, would be able to record license plate numbers. That information would then be shared with other states involved in the proposal.

Most of the cameras would be mounted, but some would be placed on mobile vehicles traveling up and down interstates 55 and 80 in Illinois, as well as a handful of other cross-country routes between Illinois and Texas.

And what’s the point?

DRUG RUNRChicago is at the heart of the proposal because it is a top destination for drugs flowing into the nation from Mexico, said Kurt Schmid, who leads the Chicago office of White House Office of Drug Control Policy, specializing in drug trafficking.

“Chicago is a major major transit point,” said Schmid.

Similarly, the same couriers who bring drugs to Chicago often return along the same routes with large sums of money or guns, Schmid said. The cameras could be used in those instances, too.

Um, OK, let me get this straight. You have a whole bunch of cameras capturing thousands of license plates traveling on a heavily used set of expressways. And you’re going to catch drug trafficking… how?

During the summer, I travel to Chicago on I-55 every week, so I suppose the cameras might find that interesting, along with hundreds of salespeople, or admissions counselors, or customer service representatives, or students going home for the weekend, or…

How is the information from these cameras going to be stored and analyzed?

How is this anything but a massive attempt at comprehensive data collection on the movement of American citizens (under the completely unexplained guise of shutting down drug trafficking)?

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22 comments to License Plate Cameras

  • Nick

    Holly shit! I’ve traveled those same roads Pete. Guess it’s time to get pulled over.
    It’s easy to call someone a bonehead when they have no brains.

  • Harry

    Maybe they will be looking for the plates that are identified as making frequent long range trips from the Mexican border to Chicago.

  • and maybe they’re spending money we don’t have. How deep a hole can they dig until it becomes a whole hole and swallows everything? How intrusive can they get before enough people say “stop.”

    Bull***t is bull***t no matter how many coats of paint you put on it.

  • paul

    I don’t get it, either. Doesn’t Chicago an the entire Midwest have tons of people who travel to Mexico and back all the time?

    Also, lots of drug couriers use rented cars, I hear. That way, if you get busted you don’t lose your own car. So keeping track of the license plates of these cars would not show a pattern, since the same courier would use a different car every time.

    Even if I believed in the drug war, I would think this idea is a complete and total waste of money. For that matter, even if I was an evil law and order supporter of a dark 1984 style government surveillance system, I would STILL think this idea was a waste of money.

    Glad it won’t have any effect whatsoever. Thank God for government incompetence!

  • How? Here’s a view into the near future, taken from a police department’s application for a search warrant:

    “We ask for this search warrant of Sam Suspect’s home on the basis that drug interdiction highway cameras (“DIHCs”) have recorded Suspect’s vehicle, identified by license plate, to be traveling on routes known by law enforcement to be frequently used by drug couriers to transport drugs from Mexico into the United States. Reviewing footage of the DIHC videos, Suspect’s vehicle was found to be traveling on this route, from Texas to Chicago, and thus probable cause exists to search the home, office, vehicles and effects of Sam Suspect.”

    SEARCH WARRANT GRANTED!

  • Let’s just play hypothetically with the idea…

    There’s an everyday version of Maxwell’s Demon in play here. One cannot observe the process without changing the very thing being observed.

    One cannot just put up cameras, change incentives, and expect “them darn criminals” to continue business as if nothing happened.

    You gotta factor in time and the changed incentives to project the final outcome. If anything this will add a little welcome ingenuity on the traffickers’ part and they’ll finally implement a more secure means of transportation, maybe decentralize storage, increase immunity and so on.

    Dynamics, I assume, must be a very difficult thing to understand for a Drug Warrior.

  • paul

    The real professionals will just vary their routes.

  • kaptinemo

    Anything to generate revenue. That’s the real thinking behind this. And all thoroughly predictable.

    Since most people have been conditioned these past 20+ years to shut off their critical thinking and sit up and beg (and in the case of no-knock drug raids, roll over and wet themselves) whenever the Holy Drug War is mentioned, the cops figure they can get what they want that way. Shamelessly transparent.

  • EarthboundBob

    This proposal is a great example of both (1) the extent to which the stimulus package has been abused (as it necessarily would be) and (2) another wasteful attempt to defy human nature. People want drugs and will have them delivered whether this proposal passes or not. But for the sake of Illinois taxpayers, I hope it doesn’t pass.

  • ezrydn

    Nothing a little change of plates won’t cure. And if you’ve spent any time in any of the border cities, you know they’re not lacking an abundance of license plates, frm everywhere! A quick spray paint of the vehicle and bingo, a new car. Now, where’s that rocket I’m supposed to design??? LOL

  • kant

    Even if by some miracle this does work in stopping some drug delivery boys…what’s to stop them from taking another expressway? There are quite a few of them between chicago and mexico.

  • claygooding

    How about the cartels buying houses and properties in our flatlined real estate market and just growing it in Chicago,or Atlanta,or Watermelon Rind,Arkansas? If I made 1.4 billion last year,and the Forbe’s list,it is what I would do.

  • Mike R

    I live in IL and I have a lot of family in TX and OK. I’m sure I drive these “drug routes” frequently. Don’t they rape us enough with just the redlight cams?

    I’m fairly certian that there are more nefarious underlying motives for this extreme example of spying on the general public.

  • BluOx

    I see more cameras being placed everywhere nomatter what reasons are given. The United Security Police States, it’s a reality.

  • Servetus

    Are we really talking about just license plate surveillance? The mobile vehicles dispatched to I-55 and I-80 could very easily be designed to look into other vehicles to view and record the occupants’ movements and activities. Even redlight cams in California are aimed so they get a photo of both the license plate and the driver/passenger in the front seats.

    Probably most mobile photo data will show people picking their nose. But Big Brother’s belief that the government can profile traffickers is a plan destined to violate people’s civil rights once the proposed surveillance system is used for arbitrary political agendas unrelated to drug enforcement. A system like the one described could be used to profile political activists headed into or out of Chicago for peace or environmental rallies. I shudder to think what Texas might do with it.

  • wait ’til they start embedding the gps trackers

  • ezrydn

    So much for democracy “inside the wall.”

  • R.O.E.

    WTH! Sounds more like 1984 bullshiit to me. I fail to see how this will stop people from trafficing. Does this mean if I went to mexico for something other than drugs alot I would get pulled over , rights violated , property taken or destroyed, ect ect all becausew i like mexico?

    Please , lets waste more money and ruin this country much sooner than the politicians are already doing.

  • R.O.E.

    CORRUPTION: A disease that spares no one.

  • Carlyle Moulton

    This is why moral panic issues such as the wars on drugs, terror and child sexual abuse are so useful, they can be used to justify extensions of surveillance and restriction on civil liberties which can then be used with discretion in a discriminatory manner against those subsets of the population whom the righteous guardians of the law already know to be wicked.

  • Osborne Perry Anderson

    If we were really serious about preventing crime we would put video cameras on all kops, DA’s, judges, politicians & their staffs etc. This essential monitoring system would only inactivate when they used a restroom or when were in their homes, etc. But anytime they operated in an official capacity they MUST be monitored and recorded for the sake of democracy and or rights! Should be easy to convince them that this would be for there own protection! ;[

  • paul

    Heh. Public officials have no reasonable expectation of privacy–the job is “public”, after all! And since it would serve the cause of justice to monitor and record them all constantly, I see no reason why we shouldn’t start today.