HAR system not much help in high speed pursuits

The in basket: Joann Williams happened to be caught in a backup on Highway 3 in North Kitsap during a police chase on Sept. 5 that later turned into a front page Kitsap Sun story. The fleeing man had phoned in bogus reports to 911 of crimes hoping it would draw away the officers following him. It didn’t work and he was arrested, but there’s a chance the incident might have gone unreported had Joann not e-mailed me with a Road Warrior question as a result.
“Since this is not the first high-speed chase near
Hood Canal Bridge,” she asked, “shouldn’t the 1450 AM highway traffic radio have been warning motorists of this?


The in basket: Joann Williams happened to be caught in a backup on Highway 3 in North Kitsap during a police chase on Sept. 5 that later turned into a front page Kitsap Sun story. The fleeing man had phoned in bogus reports to 911 of crimes hoping it would draw away the officers following him. It didn’t work and he was arrested, but there’s a chance the incident might have gone unreported had Joann not e-mailed me with a Road Warrior question as a result.
“Since this is not the first high-speed chase near
Hood Canal Bridge,” she asked, “shouldn’t the 1450 AM highway traffic radio have been warning motorists of this?
“The lack of communication was confusing, since we passed at least
five Kitsap County police cars, two fire trucks and two medics, with no official explaining to drivers what was going on.
The highway patrol radio station would have been a great outlet to warn
late-night drivers of the situation without having to walk up to
directly ask an officer what was taking place,” which Joann’s passenger did while they waited.
The out basket: Walter Weiblen of the state Department of Transportation says there is a highway advisory radio (HAR) system near the bridge, but “it is not possible or practical to try and use (it) as a news outlet for highly mobile situations such as a high speed pursuit.
“The HARs are excellent devices for posting information about
static situations/events, or for providing advance warnings of future
events at specific locations.”
In a high speed pursuit, we would
have no idea of where the local law enforcement units would have roads
temporarily closed or traffic halted during such a highly mobile event.
Pursuits are most often very quick or short in
duration, or they take place over a wide area of involvement and variety
of state and local roadways. For us to try and react to such an event
would be nearly impossible, and totally impractical.
“We do, of course,
post an appropriate message on our HARs if we were notified that the
bridge was to be closed for ‘Police Activity, Maintenance Problems,
Weather Closures,’ or other such significant events that may impact
traffic on the bridge for more then a few minutes.”
In addition to being of no value to anyone outside the HAR’s
range of only three or four miles, HAR broadcasts also are dependent on drivers seeing the flashing light or message telling them to turn to the correct frequency, or knowing the right frequency without that prompt, he said.
Lastly, he said Joann’s reference to “county units” makes him “doubtful that my operators were even notified or aware that a pursuit was in progress.” Their information usually comes from the State Patrol, he said.

One thought on “HAR system not much help in high speed pursuits

  1. Your article on using the flags for crossing the streets in Port Orchard was good. However, Bainbridge Island also has the flags for use in downtown Winslow. Our seniors, at the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center, spearheaded this project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Enter the word yellow here: