This word is a portmanteau of cop and paparazzi. It is slang term for the automated traffic enforcement cameras that police departments use to detect and issue citations to motorists who run red lights, break the speed limit, make prohibited turns, etc. Many motorists dislike these cameras as much or more than traditional speed traps; an automated ticket can cost nearly $500 in California, for instance.

The portmanteau conjures up the predatory, intrusive, soulless, greedy nature of the paparazzi in pursuing their subjects. Unlike a live police officer, a traffic camera cannot be reasoned with, and the cameras generate millions of dollars in revenue for the cities that deploy them. Also unlike police officers, traffic cameras do not offer motorists assistance and do little or nothing to alleviate real-time dangers to public safety. In fact, there's some evidence to indicate that traffic cameras decrease safety in some circumstances because people slam on their brakes if they see the cameras; a study in northern Virginia found a 27% increase in rear-end collisions at camera-monitored intersections. Furthermore, banks of coparazzi are another symptom of the hollowing of the middle class because they represent skilled jobs (traffic cops) that have been replaced with glass and electronics.

In addition to raising privacy concerns and the spectre of Orwell's Big Brother, the accuracy of traffic cameras has been called into question; some estimate that 1 in 20 citations are erroneous. In 2014, $2.4 million in fines were dismissed in Nassau County, N.Y. because of miscalibrated equiment that caused a 25% error rate. In communities where authorities have not been pressed by the media to review unfair citations, challenging a traffic camera ticket is often complex and time-consuming, so many motorists opt to simply pay them even if they believe they obeyed traffic laws.


"Want to come with us to the concert Friday night?"
"Nah, I'd love to, but I got a coparazzi ticket in the mail today. $90 for turning on an empty street at 3am, can you believe it? So I gotta pay that off first."

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