New Orleans Police confirmed Thursday that two of the city’s traffic cameras were vandalized this week. Both of the damaged cameras are in the Lakeview neighborhood and are blocks apart.
The traffic camera on Canal Blvd. near Harrison Ave. faced the ground Thursday afternoon unable to snap pictures of speeders in a school zone.
A few blocks away, on the edge of City Park at Harrison and Marconi Dr., the camera looked the same, and in both cases, the camera lenses appeared to have been spray-painted, with black and red paint.
“They need to go to jail. Truthfully it’s a disgrace. There’s no reason for that. They were mad because they got a ticket,” said New Orleans driver Marian Jacobson.
Minutes after a FOX 8 camera arrived to view the damage, a maintenance worker for American Traffic Solutions showed up to re-position the cameras and clean the lenses.
An NOPD spokesperson told FOX 8, “the target will be to get them (traffic cameras) back into service before school starts back up since one is a school zone camera.”
Driver Joel Alack said he’s received a number of traffic cam violations, but he said, “I don’t think I’d ever go that far.” He means go as far as vandalizing a traffic camera, but in Arizona last year, one driver took his anger too far. Thomas Destories was convicted of killing a photo radar van operator. Destories said he wanted to vandalize the van and fired shots into it to make a political statement. In a jailhouse interview, Destories told KSAZ TV FOX 10, “I shot in the back of it, middle of it and three shots in the front.” He said he didn’t know anyone was inside the vehicle.
Alack said, “a lot of people think it’s against our rights.. it invades our privacy.”
Jacobson said, “I just think the city should fix the streets rather than the cameras. I mean really it’s dangerous.” Traffic cam vandalism seems to be isolated. The city said at this point, it’s not a citywide problem.
According to the city, traffic cameras have a good track record in deterring drivers from breaking the law and violations bring in about $15 million a year. The Indigent Defender’s Office gets $5 for every ticket issued. The city says the rest goes in to the general fund.
As of Thursday evening the NOPD could not say whether it knew who was responsible for vandalizing the traffic cameras.