Friday, August 10, 2012

Failure of the Techno-State

Last week, I posted a blog about a how my speeding ticket was unconstitutional and how most people are willing to live with it.  Today, I’ve found this little gem:

A former D.C. police officer admitted Thursday to falsifying logs regarding the testing of mobile photo-radar cameras that issue speeding tickets — a move that resulted in the department having to refund more than $17,000 in traffic ticket fines.

Former Metropolitan Police Department Officer David Cephas‘ pleaded guilty to three counts of misdemeanor fraud in D.C. Superior Court.

According to court records, the 22-year department veteran was supposed to be monitoring photo-radar equipment during overtime shifts and taking test photographs once an hour with the cameras to ensure they were working properly. In 2008 and 2009, prosecutors said Mr. Cephas failed to take the once-an-hour shots on 33 occasions and covered up the mistakes by rolling back the clock on the radar unit in order to make it appear he had properly tested the machines.

Had the department found out at the time that he had failed to take the proper test photos, Mr. Cephas would have been suspended from his lucrative overtime duty for 90 days, court records state. As a result of the falsification of the documents, the department could not confirm the accuracy of the radar readings used to issue 200 tickets. The department refunded $17,550 in fines as a result.

The department discovered the falsified logs during an internal audit that began in May 2009, police said.

Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier issued a statement Thursday thanking her department’s internal affairs division for working “to ensure that all of our members uphold the highest standards and integrity.”

Court records indicate Mr. Cephas, who resigned from the police department as a result of his intent to plead guilty, received $17,056 from the overtime shifts that he was working when he falsified the testing records. A plea agreement indicates that he will pay back the $17,550 the department lost in revenue from the refunded tickets but does not mention any pay back of the overtime salary earned.

His attorney, Rebecca S. LeGrand, did not return a phone call requesting comment.

Mr. Cephas is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 30. Second-degree fraud is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

I got my speeding ticket from Montgomery County, Maryland.  For those of who live nowhere near the rim of insanity that is the DC Beltway, that’s one of the counties in Maryland that borders DC.  It is actually where many of the affluent folks of the DC-area live, along with Fairfax County, VA (tons of “McMansions” in Fairfax County).

I think I forgot to mention the human factor in those speed-ticket, motorist-raping cameras.  The human factor is where people will do the worst thing in a given situation, especially when it comes to power.  What I mean by this is that you can almost count on a person to do the worst possible thing in any given situation provided said action benefits him or her.  I know that is a bit cynical, but can you honestly say that people are generally good?

If people were generally good, then there would be no welfare state and half of America wouldn’t be on the take from the government.  But it’s in our nature to be irrationally selfish, even if that means hurting others.   In this case, the officer was merely lazy and inept, hoping to earn quick bucks by doing an overtime service that he initially thought didn’t require a whole lot of work.  As it turns out, he ended up costing the city money, because they had already spent the $17,550 they refunded, and he ended up costing the courts money to prosecute him for his sloth.

I wonder if Montgomery County shows the same due diligence with their speed cameras?  I will never know for certain because I’ve paid my fine am really unable to properly contest it as the deck is stacked against me.   And I’ve never been all that great at poker or even blackjack.

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