Staffing numbers are too low to review speed enforcement cameras in Seattle
(The Center Square) – Seattle city officials have worked to install more speed enforcement cameras to discourage reckless driving, but there’s not enough staff to review camera footage and enforce tickets.
The Seattle Police Department does not currently have any dedicated officers conducting reviews of camera footage, according to a presentation to the Seattle public utilities committee. The department expects four or five additional officers would be needed to support existing operations and potential expansion. The Seattle Municipal Code is anticipated to need additional staffing resources as well to meet increased demand associated with expansion.
Seattle has used automated traffic safety cameras for red light enforcement at 23 locations and fixed school zone enforcement at 19 locations. The city also has two ongoing pilot programs that involve camera enforcement: block-the-box enforcement at four locations for cars that block intersections and transit lane enforcement at five locations.
There have been 16 traffic fatalities within the city, according to statistics the Seattle Department of Transportation provided to The Center Square. Out of the 16, six were people walking, five were drivers and passengers, three people were on motorcycles or mopeds, and two bikers were killed.
According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, there are more than 10,000 crashes within the city in a year, with an average of 28 deaths and 180 serious injuries.
Last month, the Seattle City Council passed legislation that plans to install speed enforcement cameras in parts of the city that are heavily impacted by unsafe driving.
The city is also seeking to double the number of fixed cameras that enforce 20 MPH school zone speed limits. The city’s transportation department revealed the costs associated with the doubling of the school zone camera program in a Seattle public utilities committee meeting on Aug. 1. According to the department, it would require about $400,000 and another $100,000 in the Seattle Police Department to support doubling the program in upfront costs. After implementation, the transportation and police departments, along with the Seattle Municipal Code, would require approximately $2.5 million annually to operate the new enforcement locations.
In the same committee meeting, Mary Ellen Russell, chair of the Seattle School Traffic Safety Committee, said her committee is dismayed that King County dropped support for bus stop-paddle automated tickets without having an alternative set up and ready to take over last year. In turn, more drivers are passing the stop-paddle attached to school buses that signal children walking across the street.
The ticket revenue from these infractions have also diminished due to the lack of enforcement, leaving a shortage of crossing guards for the school district.
“In the meantime, there are no tickets being given out, which also means currently [Seattle Public Schools] has no funding to support crossing guards – another very important safety role,” Ellen Russell said in the committee meeting.
Seattle City Councilmember Alex Pedersen said his office contacted the police department and the city attorney’s office and they are on track to get a memorandum of understanding crafted and potentially finalized before the end of the year in regards to transitioning bus stop-paddle automated ticket enforcement from the police to the city attorney’s office.