Along Watson Boulevard, the city is making sidewalk improvements and installing new poles and traffic lights. I have no problems with the sidewalk improvements but what is wrong with the current lights?
Next, as I wait at the traffic signals at several of the main intersections such as Pleasant Hill, Hospital Drive and Houston Road, I am alarmed by the multiple cameras that are mounted and pointed down into each lane. It feels as though they are in the car with me. They appear powerful and of extremely high resolution. Warner Robins, now to be aka “Big Brother,” is installing these privacy invaders to what end, exactly? Are they for catching us in our cars as we engage in other tasks such as eating, talking on the phone or “texting,” (I hate the last two) or catching the ladies putting on makeup, or perhaps to nail us for not wearing our seat belts, thus to be defended as a “deterrent to crime?”
Are they the “red light” cameras I have heard of in other cities that take photographs of speeders and mail tickets to your home? Is this a way for the city to make some extra cash, as if fines, fees, utilities and taxes weren’t high enough already? I am sure our snarky mayor will say they are being installed in the interest of “public safety,” or to assist law enforcement in protecting “the people.” These cameras quite frankly give me the heebie-jeebies and are, I think, invasions of our privacy. Who is authorized to see these videos or pictures? Where will they be monitored and when and what kinds of abuses are possible from their use? Who testifies to their accuracy? Who authorized the expenditure for installation of these cameras (and new lights) and where did we get the money? I read the papers and follow the local news faithfully and have no recollection of these privacy invading cameras and their funding being mentioned as a specific line item in some funding grant, scheme or never-ending SPLOST.
I trust I’m not the only person bothered by this and hope there are some freedom and privacy loving individuals in Warner Robins who are also troubled. I can’t wait to hear the Mayor or other city spokes-person defend these cameras. I ask that someone from some citizen protection entity look into these cameras and discover their purpose and let the people know. You need to remember: We are on a slippery slope called “incrementalism.” What right or privacy issue goes away next after they get their way with this one?
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Smile for the cameras, folks. They may as well be riding in the seat next to you and will be operational soon.
D.J. Spencer is a resident of Warner Robins