Smile, Poulsbo police to catch violators on camera

POULSBO — Area motorists daring to disregard the law and drive through red lights without coming to a stop could find themselves facing consequences in the click of a shutter as the Poulsbo Police Department investigates the possibility of installing traffic cameras at intersections throughout the city.

Redflex Traffic Systems, an Arizona-based company that specializes in assisting local and state governments nationwide, will be conducting a survey to ascertain the city’s trouble areas and determine whether traffic cameras are a smart investment for Poulsbo.

“They’re cameras mounted at problem intersections,” said PPD Sgt. Robert Wright. “It’s a very positive thing for the safety of the citizens.”

Redflex currently has contracts with more than 130 U.S. cities, including Bremerton. The company’s SMARTCAM digital imaging program allows the cameras to catch red light infractors in the act and alert city police of the violation. SMARTCAM offers high resolution imaging that provides clear license plate zooms and driver facial shots. Wright said Redflex, which is regulated by the state and would not receive a share of ticket profits, supplies and manages surveillance equipment, utilizes the cameras to catch violators, then sends the information on to the police for a flat monthly fee.

“They do all of the tracking and paperwork, then forward the information to the police department,” he said. “There’s no commission system for the company.”

Wright said potential target areas include State Route 305, the intersection of Finn Hill Road and Viking Avenue, and the Highway 3 offramp at SR 305, which he called “one of the worst red light intersections in the city.”

PPD Interim Chief Jake Evans raised the issue Aug. 8 at a Poulsbo Public Safety committee meeting.

Councilman Dale Rudolph said he thinks much of Poulsbo’s traffic problems stem from commuters cutting through town.

“Red apparently doesn’t mean stop to some people,” he said. “Probably Hostmark is the worst.”

Councilman Jim Henry said he would support the enforcement action, and thought its presence alone would help deter violators.

“I’m all for that, I really am,” he said. “Sometimes just knowing that it’s there will make things a little safer.”

Redflex is the largest provider of digital red light services in North America. It is known as a financially stable company and boast a proven track record, Wright said. The city has requested that the company conduct the intersection survey to assist with the final decision. “

It isn’t decided yet. We’ll make the determination based upon the survey,” he said. “It will give us a lot more information.”

Should the city decide to implement the system, there will be a 30-day grace period during which drivers will be informed.

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