Bremerton considers photo enforcement

Motorists who choose to put the pedal to the floor to beat a red light or zoom through posted school zones may soon have pictures that aren’t necessarily worth a 1,000 words, but rather a hefty traffic citation.

Bremerton Police Department Lt. Pete Fisher gave the Bremerton City Council a snapshot of the enforcement program during Wednesday night’s council study session in the Norm Dicks Government Center.

“Per RCW (the Revised Code of Washington) we are only allowed two detection devices per arterial intersection,” Fisher said.

That means that on a four-way intersection like 11th Street and Warren Avenue, only two directions of travel would be monitored by the system provided by Redflex Traffic Systems.

Because the city is only purchasing eight red light systems, there could be as many as eight single locations or four combined sites, depending on the results of the analysis done by the contractor, Fisher said.

City Engineer Mike Meacham said the contractor will work with the city to ensure the devices are placed in effective locations. Red light systems will cost the city $48.50 per month.

“If we don’t get enough citations in a month, the contractor will eat the cost,” Meacham said. “They guarantee 50 citations per month at intersections.”

Some potential locations for the devices include the Warren Avenue corridor, the Burwell Avenue corridor, Marine Drive and Kitsap Way, he said.

“We will look at all of those plus others,” Meacham said.

In researching the school zone enforcement issue, Fisher said the consensus reached by those involved was to set the citation standard at 10 MPH over the posted 20 MPH speed limit for those areas.

However, just because a motorist is caught on camera for a potential violation, that doesn’t automatically mean a ticket is in the mail, Meacham said.

“The officers will look at each event and the computer will say, ‘Accept or reject,’” he said. “If it is accepted, people will receive a citation in two or three days.”

There are some standard reasons for an officer to reject a citation, and each citation must have an officer’s electronic signature before it is mailed, Meacham said.

During the first 30 days after the new enforcement effort is enacted motorists won’t be cited, but afterwards tickets will be issued, Fisher said.

So far there haven’t been any state Supreme Court challenges to citations resulting from the use of the system, he said.

“There have been a lot of contested citations that have successfully prosecuted in municipal courts,” Fisher said.

For the first three months of the new enforcement program, the contractor will provide expert witnesses and train Bremerton police officers like Lt. Fisher to be experts as well, Meacham said.

“If we run into extra trouble they will provide two expert witnesses per year,” Meacham said.

Once the council formally approves the changes to the Bremerton Municipal Code, it will take about three months before the system is operational, so motorists should take heed in the fall, Fisher said.

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