Kent’s red-light cameras catch 3,867 violators during warning period

At three major intersections

The red-light cameras at three major intersections in Kent caught 3,867 violators during the first six weeks of the new program.

“That’s nearly 4,000 with only half of the cameras active,” Police Chief Rafael Padilla said during a report at the City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. “It’s a lot. It tells you it is a significant need.”

Kent just started a warning period at three other intersections and will have six intersections monitored by mid-September.

Cameras caught the violators between July 1 and Aug. 12 at the intersections of Central Avenue North and East Smith Street (northbound and southbound), Central Avenue North and East James Street (northbound and eastbound) and Kent Des Moines Road and Pacific Highway South (eastbound), Padilla said.

Police issued 2,766 warnings out of those 3,867 violations with 1,101 of the cases still to be reviewed by officers, Padilla said. The warning period ended Aug. 12. Drivers (actually registered owners of the vehicles) will receive $136 tickets from now on.

“They will get a link to go to the video (that shows the violation), and they have 10 days to contest it or pay the ticket,” Padilla said.

Red-light camera tickets do not go on a driver’s record, so there is no impact to insurance rates.

The chief said police won’t issue tickets for certain violations.

“If you come to a safe stop and are just over the line, we will not issue a ticket although technically that is a violation,” Padilla said. “But if you do what’s known as a California stop and roll through on a right turn, you will get a ticket.”

The warning period runs through mid-September for the red-light cameras installed at the three intersections of 104th Avenue SE and SE 240th Street (eastbound and westbound), 104th Avenue SE and SE 256th Street (northbound and eastbound) and 84th Avenue South and South 212th Street (northbound and southbound). No statistics are available yet for those intersections.

“Whether you like or don’t like red-light cameras, we know they are effective and we know they gain voluntary compliance,” Padilla said. “If you don’t run a red light, it will have zero impact on your life.”

Kent Police picked the six intersections because those streets had the most collisions.

The council in November approved a five-year contract with Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions (ATS) Inc., for as much as $651,000 per year for red-light camera installation and maintenance along with the processing and mailing of infractions. The city also contracts with ATS for about $367,000 per year for school traffic zone cameras to catch speeding drivers.

Kent will use revenue from the red-light cameras to pay for body-worn cameras for 105 police officers at a cost of about $1.63 million over five years.

If police had issued tickets for the 3,867 violators, the revenue would have been about $525,912 for the six weeks. Police expect the number of violators to go down at each intersection as drivers become more aware of the cameras.

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