New data released Tuesday indicate the number of violations at Redmond's camera-enforced intersections is declining, but the frequency of collisions is also increasing.
According to the new numbers, which were presented at a city council public safety committee meeting, the total number of violations declined by 43.7 percent between March and August of this year. Collisions at the three intersections with red-light cameras, meanwhile, increased from 14 in January through August of 2010 to 19 during the same time period this year.
The city's controversial camera enforcement pilot program has been in place since February. It includes red-light cameras eastbound on Redmond Way at 148th Avenue Northeast, eastbound and westbound on Northeast 40th Street at 156th Avenue Northeast, and westbound on Union Hill Road and northbound on Avondale Road where those two roads intersect. A speed zone camera is also located at , 18025 NE 116th St.
Fines for camera-enforced violations are $124.
The speed camera near Einstein Elementary on Northeast 116th Street was also turned off during the summer months when school was not in session.
Anti-camera activist Scott Harlan says he believes the 43.7-percent reduction in violations has been skewed by the police department's rate of rejecting potential violations, which increased from a monthly average of 501 rejections between March and June to an average of 551 rejections per month between March and August.
"While the police department has clearly been fine-tuning its review process for the better, those dramatic changes in the review process skew all of the earlier citation data reported as part of the program," Harlan said in an email he sent to the city council and members of the local media.
Department officials have said previously that officers who review videos of potential violations use the same discretion they apply while on patrol. Police spokesman Jim Bove said that process has not changed since the camera program began, although different people have had the duty of reviewing the videotapes.
“Nothing has changed, but the thing to understand is it’s not always the same person doing it,” Bove said.
City council member Hank Myers, who is also chairman of the public safety committee, said he is pleased the number of rejected violations is increasing.
"I think we're getting a little more sophisticated in determining what a violation is," he said.
Myers also said the violations have brought in approximately $630,000 through August. , however, and the city will not find out how much it will receive until the end of the year.
The city council must decide whether to renew its contract with camera vendor American Traffic Solutions before Dec. 1. Council members are scheduled to begin discussing the matter at an Oct. 11 study session.
The entire report presented at the committee meeting is attached to this story and can also be viewed by clicking here.
Camera-enforced warnings and citations
Avondale Rd / Union Hill Rd Union Hill Rd NE 40th St / 156th Ave NE Redmond Way / 148th Ave NE NE 116th St at Einstein Elementary February (warning period) 927 528 1,187 158 March 701 570 871 110 April 666 555 941 96 May 644 499 183* 107 June 688 508 20* 79** July 439 326 190* 0** August 440 380 384 0**
*The camera at Redmond Way and 148th Ave NE experienced an equipment malfunction during these months that contributed to a decrease in citations.
**The camera at Einstein Elementary was turned off after June 22, when the school year ended.
Source: Redmond Police Department
Clarification: An earlier version of this story contained language that suggested the 43.7-percent decline in violations might have been affected by a malfunctioning camera. The police department said the camera was working properly in August, so the comparison rate between March and August was not affected.