Councilwoman scrutinizes Bremerton’s red light cameras

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Bremerton City Councilwoman Leslie Daugs is taking on the city’s red light photo enforcement system. 

In a lengthy opinion piece published Friday, she scrutinizes the falling revenues from the program and believes that it has become a cost to city government, rather than a benefit for it. She acknowledges some “traffic calming” effects but believes it may be time for the cameras to go.

“It’s time to re-evaluate the best way to keep our citizens safe, and be good stewards of our tax dollars,” she wrote.

I talked with Daugs Wednesday night about why she’s taking on the cause. Daugs acknowledged that part of her motivation was a Kitsap Sun investigation that found last year the cameras are close to losing the city money, do little to enhance safety and are run by a company that has been embroiled in scandal of late.

She has also had concerns over the easy way many people get out of a red light ticket: just say you’re not driving. Her stats indicate that of the 6,609 tickets issued in 2014, 1,086 were dismissed.

We reported last year:

Like many photo enforcement programs around the country and the state, Bremerton’s was lucrative from its onset. The city took in $842,580 in 2008. Over the past five years, motorists have paid $4.3 million in fines, with $2.6 million going to Redflex.

But the amount collected dwindled to $570,775 in 2013. The drop in citations issued between 2012 and 2013 was the biggest ever — a decrease of about 2,500 tickets.

Factoring in the $432,000 the city pays each year to Redflex, the margins are thinning for the city.

“There is an obvious trend here,” Daugs says in her letter. “At this rate the cameras will soon cost the city money, rather than bringing in revenue.”

She believes the program has “harmed working families,” and despises the idea that governments would target the people simple to produce revenue.

“I am wary of replacing thinking, feeling, human police officers with the unblinking camera eye — and I object to exporting Bremerton dollars to Phoenix,” she wrote.

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4 thoughts on “Councilwoman scrutinizes Bremerton’s red light cameras

  1. Wouldn’t the dwindling number of citations issued indicate the cameras are doing their job? And her point about making it safer is absolutely wrong less people running red lights ultimately makes it safer. And he’s saying she despises the fact the government would target the citizens to produce revenue is ludicrous because she’s complaining they aren’t making enough money for the city! And moving violations are the same thing. I would understand getting rid of them if it caused the city money and didn’t impact the safety of the citizens but ultimately it does.

  2. The information we DON’T get in the graph is the severity of the accidents. It is my understanding from published reports, the number of touches can go up, but the injury severity plummets.

    This is important if the primary concern is safety and not monetary.

  3. In my opinion, a camera can not make you safer from red light runners. Properly adjusted yellow light times can. The fact that the city refuses to properly adjust the (Wheaton/ Sylvan) yellow light time only goes to show that these cameras are for profit not safety. The yellow time is set at bare legal requirement 3.5sec. The City Engineer does not even know the 85th percentile approach speed, a key part of the formula to determine the proper yellow. Instead he used an outdated formula to justify a barely legal yellow time that has not been adjusted in at least a decade. When confronted with proven success stories, of other cities reducing red light running by increasing yellow time, he wrote me off as “conspiracy theory”. When this safety concern was presented to Daugs, she ignored it repeatedly, along with Mayor Lent and Cheif Strachan. Redflex’s own data shows the vast majority of straight thru “violations” happen in the first 1/4 second. Yet the city has failed to make any adjustments beyond allowing a for profit, foreign company to erect a camera. Again a camera can not stop a vehicle from entering on red, properly adjusted signal timing has been proven. Also consider the fact you have a for profit, foreign company issuing tickets from out of state and signing BPD officers names “under the penalty of perjury” out of state. The City and the BPD has essentially delegated its responsibility to a foreign company. “it’s a parking ticket, not a moving violation” – Penny HIll (unsworn, unqualified robe wearing “judge”) And the City blames the people for finding a loophole in the system?

  4. The above video only proves my point that automated infraction cameras do nothing to stop red light running. I also view it as propaganda because the vast majority of these Redflex tickets are issued to perfectly safe rolling right hand turns. The majority of straight thru violations happen in the first 1/4 sec. (again that’s a signal timing issue known as a “delimna zone”, where a driver cant safely stop or legally continue forward)
    whatever.

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