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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Sunday, April 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

High-Tech Traffic Snoops Put On Hold Photo Red, Photo Radar Systems Need Computer Link

Spokane drivers who race down streets or through red lights won’t be caught on camera anytime soon.

Photo red and photo radar programs were supposed to be in place this summer. But delays have pushed the start dates back to early next year for the radar system and at least spring for the red light system.

Plans to issue traffic tickets to speeders and red light runners based on photographs are on hold while the city waits for access to state Department of Licensing records.

Right now, the city can’t access DOL computer systems that link the registered owner of a car to driver’s license records, said Lt. Glenn Winkey of the Spokane Police Department.

The city plans to use the information on driver’s licenses - eyes, hair, weight, height, sex - to make sure the driver pictured in the photograph is the car’s owner.

The state computer programmers won’t have time to create remote access to the records until early next year, Winkey said. “We were hoping they could put that on the fast track. But they can’t get that done.”

The aim of the two systems is to catch more traffic violators and free police officers for other duties.

Photo radar likely will be in place months before photo red, Winkey said. Court challenges are sure to follow the first few tickets issued under the systems, especially since Spokane would be the first city in Washington to try them.

Clark County also plans to put the systems in place.

“I’m sure there are attorneys lining up” to fight the citations, Winkey said.

Photo red is far more expensive than photo radar since intersections must be torn up to put the traffic-light monitoring equipment in place. City officials and representatives from United States Public Technology - the company that owns the equipment for both systems - want to see how the photo radar tickets do in court before investing money in construction.

Neither system costs taxpayers money. Instead, the company gets a cut when the offender pays the fine.

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: How they work Photo radar: A camera in a van takes a snapshot of any driver exceeding the speed limit by at least 11 mph. The picture also shows the car’s license plate. Data recorded on the photograph include the car’s speed and location. An officer sits nearby in a van taking notes about the violation. Photo red: A camera photographs any car entering the intersection after the light has turned red. The camera takes a picture of the driver, the car’s license plate and the traffic light. Data on the photograph include the car’s speed and the length of time the light had been red.

This sidebar appeared with the story: How they work Photo radar: A camera in a van takes a snapshot of any driver exceeding the speed limit by at least 11 mph. The picture also shows the car’s license plate. Data recorded on the photograph include the car’s speed and location. An officer sits nearby in a van taking notes about the violation. Photo red: A camera photographs any car entering the intersection after the light has turned red. The camera takes a picture of the driver, the car’s license plate and the traffic light. Data on the photograph include the car’s speed and the length of time the light had been red.

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