Police Details, Cameras, & Enforcement Methods

Wash

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How unique is Massachusetts' police detail system? How is it different from, say, ones in NJ or PA, or New York for that matter?
 

Arlington

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How unique is Massachusetts' police detail system? How is it different from, say, ones in NJ or PA, or New York for that matter?
Unique in the sense of Uno:
Massachusetts is the only state in which businesses or governmental entities conducting projects on local roads generally use police details rather than flaggers. This practice is the result of both local ordinances and the exercise of discretion by local police officials empowered to require the use of police details in work zones.
(emphasis mine)

Police Details in Massachusetts: Protection or Perk?
Beacon Hill Institute, 2004

Having grown up in Baltimore-Washington, schooled in Chicago, lived in DC-Virginia, interned in NYC, I'd never seen a police detail until I arrived in Boston. Elsewhere it was all one flagger (guy in hardhat looking at traffic in small projects) or one-at-each end (traffic diversions).

Now, at least in Virginia, I'm seeing more and more of:
- Close one lane around the site
- put a pair of traffic-light-on-trailer (similar to the things now managing the Departures Exit at Logan Terminal A)
- Let the robot traffic lights (which use radar to detect waiting traffic) manage themselves
 
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Stlin

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Unique in the sense of Uno:
(emphasis mine)

Police Details in Massachusetts: Protection or Perk?
Beacon Hill Institute, 2004
I'm not so sure about that. The article you cite predates 2008 reforms of flaggers and police details, which allow for civilian flaggers, even if it's proven mostly ineffectual.

How unique is Massachusetts' police detail system? How is it different from, say, ones in NJ or PA, or New York for that matter?
Cops work at least some amount of work protection detail in CT and RI, the states I'm most familiar with, but not proportionally as much as in MA. This 2018 Telegram & Gazette article specifically notes that:

Kevin J. Nursick, spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Transportation, said state police are used on all high-speed, limited-access highways, including Interstate 395, and flaggers are used for some of the projects on the secondary state routes. As in Massachusetts, municipal police do the work on projects in cities and towns. State police are paid $62 an hour and civilians are paid $52.21 an hour. The rate for municipal police varies, with some being paid as much as $104 an hour, Mr. Nursick said. Law enforcement also determines the number of officers that work a detail.

In 2017, Connecticut State Police earned about $7.8 million; municipal police, $8.9 million; and civilians a little over $1 million.
In general, it appears to basically boil down to organized labor "prevailing wage" for a flagger basically being equal to that of cops, as MA civilian flaggers are basically twice the New England average.

At any rate, the above Telegram article does a good job of explaining why civilian flaggers are rare, despite the 2008 reform. And for future reference, This MassDOT Report (2008, PDF) goes into the cost differential and original justification for the 2008 change in regulation, and see this Pioneer Institute Report (PDF) for more up to date numbers by state and analysis, and why police continue to dominate site control.
 
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North Shore

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Whomever Horizon Signal is, they're both the vendor at Logan A...
and making it clear that flaggers need to be replaced by a pair of traffic lights:
Horizon is the Manufacturer. But they are sold by a distributor to construction firms. I used one of their systems for an alternating single lane roadway in Lexington when we were replacing a culvert. Worked like a charm.
 

jarvismj

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So I have a different perspective on this, as someone who has lived both in Mass and the EU, as well as other places in the USA. The only time that I can see a police detail is warranted is work on a highway, be it state or federal, or interstate highway. When Verizon was installing FiOS on my street (Medford) they had the detail cop from Somerville, doing his thing (nap time). That isn't needed in my opinion. With regard to highway details, the only request I would have is to tone down the lights. It's beyond distracting when you're driving at highway speed at night, and the strobes do everything but actually blind you.

On the topic of cameras. I'm a huge proponent of them, given that it removes human interaction from dealing with the public. The camera doesn't give a shit what race or gender you are, only how fast you were driving. My wife was blitzed in Washington DC last month but my issue with that is that the fine is insanely high for the infraction, but I think that is an American thing. $300 for 16 mph over. That along with the fact that American cameras only capture the rear of the car, which is pointless to ID the driver, but I understand that not all US states require front plates.

I honestly think that if Mass put speed cameras up, and were to do it like Germany where they rotate them, sometimes leaving them in place only a few hours, that would solve a lot of the shitty driving. Put them in the back of an SUV, a station wagon, anything. The trick is to use them on the front to get the driver. I know this well, I have been blitzed a few times. Nothing like getting that red flash to make your day go to hell, and for you to slow down. For clarification, the term "blitz" is German for flash. I'll include an edited speeding ticket for an example. It was from 2018, and I was traveling 133 km/h in a 120 km/h area. Yes, I realize I am sort of doxing myself, but that is a shitty photo of me, and I don't have that car/license plate anymore and don't live at that address.

Autobahn Speeding Ticket Edited.png
 

Arlington

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I'm in favor of camera enforcent. Particularly widespread rather than targeted. E.g that EVERY intersection would be self-enforcing, and EVERY bus would have a camera, because I think that the more-widespread it is, the less biased it has the potential to be.

As the cost of cameras, triggers, and wireless networking falls, I don't see why we'd need to rotate enforcement. I think universal enforcement but maybe more warnings and a geometric rise in penalties would be the way to go.

With cameras, you still have to be aware that your choice of location can have an implied bias--putting all the red-light cameras in poor areas and communities of color.

The traffic volumes, speed limits, street geometry, and choice of traffic control device seems closely tied to neighborhood, which, thanks to The Big Sort, (and moreso than in Europe) means that people's ethnicity, wealth, and beliefs are tied to where they live and drive.

Like a lot of "law and order" the White Culture is all in favor of it as long as it only applies to other people.
 

Arlington

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I would dox myself with the Maryland and Pennsylvania construction-zone cameras pictures and civil fines, but

MD was an $80 fine, we paid and changed behavior
PA was a warning.

Both came with very clear photos of my shamefully-boring minivan, which I choose not to share, hoping you'll think I drive a Porsche Panamera.
 

jarvismj

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I had to look up the company that makes the "Blitzer" but it actually is interesting what all they can do with them. Even more interesting is that they have a US division for traffic enforcement, and I think the MassDOT already uses them on the MassPike for the number plate recognition. The company's name is Vitronic.de.
I totally agree though with Arlington, it needs to be uniform in practice, and not just to the lower-income areas. Also, the fines need to balance the line of being an annoyance, and not bankrupting people, like I had to pay the fine for my wife in DC. I think my fine for the ticket I posted was either €20 or €30. Just an annoyance but I learned my lesson.
Also, I found a photo of the mobile units the Munich KVR uses. They just park their little VW along the road and rake in the money.
BlitzerVan.jpg
 

George_Apley

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Put them in place. Make them uniform. Make them citations that aren't moving violations and therefore are not tied to insurance rates.
 

Arlington

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Put them in place. Make them uniform. Make them citations that aren't moving violations and therefore are not tied to insurance rates.
I would like to keep some semblance of:
1) eventually (for an individual, not "once we've all become numb" kind of eventually), speeding and light-running are going to affect our judgment of the risk a driver poses to others, not just the driver's tolerance for fines
2) eventually, this has to reflect on whether you should keep your driving privileges at all.

So I'd like to see that:
1) Once you cross into the top 0.1% of civil fines, we nominate you for some kind of "warrant issued upon probable cause" in which any additional camera-recorded violation (or, say, portfolio of your next ten after the warrant issues) would actually be a ratable (insurance) and driving record offense.

2) I'd require lots of data for the 0.1% to start triggering request for warrants, for example requiring all of:
  • system has to be in place for 18 months
  • system has to have 1,000,000 total violations
  • system has to have 1,000,000 total violators
  • top 100,000 violators must have at least 10 violations
  • "consistently unfair" cameras have been identified and "tuned down" in the model
3) And then, once an operator is in the top 1,000 and has their 80th violation they'd get a special notice of warrant-applied-for

4) And then, once an operator in the top 1,000 has their 100th viol, the State would ask a judge to issue a warrant which would allow the state to start proposing (at a hearing) that camera violations were moving violations.
 

jarvismj

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So I checked the "bußgeldkatalog" (Catalog of Fines) online because the fines are uniform across the country. I'll link the pages below, and just use the translate in whatever browser you have. The small infractions do not usually incur license penalties, but the worse the violation, the worse the penalty.

Red Light Violation

Speeding Violation
 

JeffDowntown

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I feel there should be a pretty aggressive sliding scale of penalties.

First violation of a given type, could be a simple mistake.

But by the third or so violation of the same type, you are demonstrating a pattern, and an unwillingness to learn. Shift over to a moving violation then, and start throwing the book at the driver.

SImilar approach should be used for bus and bike lane violations. You get a few opportunities to learn then you pay, really hard (or lose your license). Driving is a privilege, not a right.
 

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