Patrol car cameras and expired tabsSeptember 10th, 2013 by travis baker
The in basket: George Bruns responded to the recent Road Warrior column about obscured rear license plates and said, “As I drive around Port Orchard, I’m surprised how many people do have there plate covered up, but what really bothers me is how many have expired tabs. Just the other day I saw a car that their tabs were eight months past due.
“How in the world can they drive for that long without being stopped? Guess they are just lucky,” he said.
“I was told buy a state trooper that the fine is like $143 times eight.
“But my real question is why doesn’t law enforcement use there in-dash cameras to take a picture and either send them a letter telling them that they need to clean up there license plate or a ticket for expired tabs. This to me would be a simple fix and allow police to care for more urgent things,” George said.
The out basket: The last I checked, and it was years ago, there was only one WSP car in the local detachment with a camera, so I started by asking it there are many now.
Trooper Russ Winger, the public affairs officer for the patrol here, said, “The patrol has quite a few digital cameras in our patrol cars. Eventually all WSP patrol vehicles will be equipped with them. That is a matter of logistics and more importantly money and will likely take several more years to accomplish.
“The cameras come on when (emergency) lights are activated and officers can also manually turn them on, if needed.
“As for troopers taking pictures of license plates and sending them to warn drivers, well, this is quite impractical,” Russ said. “We simply do not have the manpower for this. In addition the cost would be prohibitive in today’s tight state budgets.
“The on-board camera systems are meant to protect both officer and motorists during traffic stops and other situations. Storage and retention of these videos is regulated by evidence and public disclosure rules.
“We prefer to have face-to-face discussions with motorists when the opportunity presents to educate drivers.
“I think most people prefer to not have the police send warnings and tickets to them without knowing they are coming. It is rather impersonal and Big Brother.
From the public response to red light and speed cameras, I think this is rather true.
“As for your readers guess about expired tab fines, his estimate is a little off,” Russ said. Expired tabs are classified as either under two months expired or over two months. It’s $216 for more than two months late and doesn’t increase beyond that, he said.
The fine for over two months expired was, last time I checked, $216. The fine does not increase beyond the second month.