Perceptions of surveillance: exploring feelings held by Black community leaders in Boston toward camera enforcement of roadway infractions

Abstract

Roadway camera enforcement programs have been found to effectively reduce vehicle travel speeds, as well as decrease the number and severity of collisions. Despite a wealth of evaluative research confirming this enforcement approach's aptitude at promoting safer roadway behavior, fewer than 50 % of US states currently host camera-based programs. Public opposition is frequently cited as the cause for the slow proliferation of this enforcement strategy. However, with public demand for police reform having an increasing presence on the national political stage, how might feelings toward camera technology currently stand among groups most marginalized by existing enforcement systems, and how might those feelings vary by type of enforcement application? Through a series of focus groups, this work centers Black voices on matters of surveillance and roadway enforcement by discussing sentiment toward camera programs with Black community leaders. This discussion is contextually situated in Boston, Massachusetts, where legislation that would allow for camera enforcement of roadway infractions is actively being deliberated in the State Senate. Findings culminate in a list of right-sizing and procedural recommendations for policy makers hoping to gain support for camera enforcement, improve roadway safety, and advance racial equity in our systems of policing and governance

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