Camera Operator Slaying Fuels Controversy Camera Operator Slaying Fuels Controversy


Phoenix, AZ—After the operator of a speed-enforcement camera was shot and killed, critics of the program are fighting to have it discontinued.

Doug Georgianni was killed on April 19th as he sat inside a speed-enforcement van on a freeway in Phoenix. In custody in Maricopa county, charged with first-degree murder, is 68-year-old Thomas Patrick Destories.

Since the two men had never met one another, no motive has been named in the slaying; it is believed that it was an example of the public’s outrage about the photographic speed-enforcement program, in which cameras mounted in roadside vans snap pictures of those who violate the speed limit.

The incident marks a turning point in what has been a hotly contested public issue – whether the program is intrusive and unfair. Its supporters claim that the program, which has been in place since last September, has reduced speeds and made highways safer. Yet opponents call the program overly intrusive, and some have even fought back against it, attacking the cameras with Silly String and, in one instance, a pickaxe.

Adding to the controversy is the fact that Georgianni, 51, was an unarmed civilian, even though the camera van was a marked police car. Critics of the program say that putting untrained and unarmed civilians in the vans, instead of trained law enforcement officers, puts the operators at unnecessary risk.

A number of citizens’ group, as well as state lawmakers, have proposed bills and initiatives which would eliminate the cameras. These measures will appear on the 2010 ballet in Phoenix.

A spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety has said that the vans may be unmanned in the future, in order to avoid the risk of further harm to employees such as Georgianni. The vans have been removed from the freeways, although fixed cameras remain in place.

Former Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano was in office when the speed-enforcement camera program was launched. To date, 34,000 people who were ticketed under the initiative have paid their fines, which total around $180 each.

The cameras snap a picture of motorists who are driving 11 miles-an-hour, or more, above the posted speed limit.

One citizens’ rights group,, has launched a statewide initiative to ban all Arizona photo-enforcement methods, including Tempe-area cameras which are intended to catch drivers who run red lights.


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