22.00.190     PHOTO ENFORCEMENT


This policy establishes the guidelines for the administration and operation of the Bellevue Police Department’s Photo Enforcement Program.  This policy applies to all members of the Bellevue Police Department who may be involved in the administration and execution of the program. The Bellevue Police Department’s Traffic Unit administers this Program.


The City of Bellevue contracted with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to install, operate, and maintain photo enforcement equipment at selected intersections and school zones in the City. This technology is designed to reduce red light violations at intersections, and to reduce speeding in school zones. ATS captures potential violations, identifies the registered owner of the vehicles, and prepares that information for review by BPD. 

An assigned officer and/or supervisor reviews each potential violation and either accepts or rejects it. The reviewer’s signature is electronically placed on each approved citation.  ATS mails the citation to the registered owner. The citation includes a photo of the vehicle, a photo of the license plate, and a link to a website where additional information can be accessed, including a video clip of the violation occurring, and an interface to accept electronic payments.

The violator has the same options as with other infraction citations, i.e. submit payment, request a hearing, etc.  Bellevue Police and ATS personnel will testify as needed on Photo Enforcement citations. 

NOTE:  Only authorized commissioned Bellevue Police personnel will approve/reject citations generated by this program.

Procedures

The Traffic Unit Lieutenant or his designee will oversee the Photo Enforcement Program under the direction of the Traffic Commander.  The Lieutenant will be responsible for the following:

v      Maintaining communication with ATS to quickly resolve any issues related to the program and its operation

v      Providing guidance and direction to ATS concerning the issuance of citations (see attached business rules and matrix)

v      Holding meetings, as necessary with representatives from the various City departments that make up the Photo Enforcement violation program management team

v      Ensuring that trained/qualified officers or supervisors review each violation in a timely manner

v      Monitoring the submission to the court of “Advisory to Dismiss” forms and notices to the vendor to reissue citations

v      Maintaining a file of citation copies involving City of Bellevue owned or leased vehicles

v      Supervising the actions of the Bellevue PD Officers responsible for approving, or rejecting red light violations.

v      Provide updated training for the Photo Enforcement violations as necessary.

v      Maintaining Photo Enforcement information as needed.

v      Completing statistical and analytical reports as needed.

The reviewing officer(s) will be responsible for the following:

v      Reviewing all photo enforcement violations for accuracy, quality, and validity

v      Preparing for courtroom testimony on Photo Enforcement cases

v      Testifying on Photo Enforcement cases as required

v      Training additional officers in the violation review process, as necessary

v      Providing input on the program’s operation and implementing approved changes or modifications

Citation review

Only authorized officers, supervisors, or other trained Bellevue PD officer(s) and supervisors will approve/reject Photo Enforcement citations. They must have their signature on file (digitized) with American Traffic Solutions prior to conducting reviews.

The purpose of the review is to ensure accuracy, maintain quality control, and confirm the validity of a potential violation.  Reviewers will not make judgments on the merits of the case when deciding whether to approve or reject a citation.  Reviewers will adhere to the guidelines listed below:

Red Light Violations

Is there a clear violation?  Light is red, first frontal photo shows vehicle behind prolongation of the curb line (stop line), vehicle continues through intersection, etc.

Vehicle identification:  Plate legible, plate matches citation information, i.e., make, model, and year.

Location and code:  Citation lists correct location of violation, correct violation code, and correct code description.

School Zone Violations

Is there a clear violation?  School Zone sign / lights activated, speed limit clearly marked, school in session, radar unit working properly, etc.

Photo Enforcement Program Business Rules

The Bellevue Police Department, in partnership with other City Departments and a private vendor, has initiated a Photo Enforcement Program with the overall goal of improving roadway safety by improving safety in school zones, and reducing collisions caused by red light violations at intersections.  Unfortunately, voluntary compliance is not enough.  Therefore, enforcement is also a necessary component of the Program. 

The purpose of this document is to establish the business rules for the City of Bellevue Police Department’s Photo Enforcement Program.  The business rules establish how the program will be administered. 

Vehicle types

Privately Owned Vehicles
A citation for the violation will be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. If the owner of the vehicle was not the driver of the vehicle at the time of the violation, the registered owner will have the option to provide the name of the driver and/or swear under oath that they were not the driver and request that the ticket dismissed. The original citation may then be amended in the name of the actual driver of the vehicle.

Commercial Vehicles
A citation will be issued to the registered owner of a commercial vehicle when the driver of that vehicle commits a violation. 

Rental/Leased Vehicles
If the registered owner of the vehicle is a rental car business, the reviewing officer shall provide a written notice to the rental car business that a citation may be issued to the rental car business if the rental car business does not, within eighteen days of receiving the written notice, provide the name and known mailing address of the individual driving or renting the vehicle at the time the infraction occurred.

Government Owned Vehicles: Not Public Safety
A citation will be issued to the registered owner of a government vehicle when the driver of that vehicle commits a violation. 

Government Owned Vehicles: Public Safety – Outside Agencies
All violations that involve a public safety vehicle from an outside agency will be directed to the Traffic Lieutenant.  The outside agency contact will be notified of the incident and provided with a copy of the citation.  The Traffic Lieutenant will maintain a record of the infraction, the date of referral, the name of the person contacted, and the disposition (i.e. referred to Lieutenant Smith of the KCSO) of the citation.

NOTE: When certain public safety vehicles are equipped and operated in accordance with RCW 46.61.035, the operator may deviate from certain traffic laws.

Vehicles Owned by the City of Bellevue

The Officer or Supervisor reviewing the citation will identify the department vehicle by contacting the Fleet Manager or his/her designee.  Once the department is identified, the citation will be forwarded to the pre-arranged department contact.  The Traffic Lieutenant will maintain a record of the infraction, the date of referral, the name of the person contacted, and the disposition of the citation.

Vehicles Owned by the Police Department

Violations of the traffic laws by department personnel captured by the automated traffic enforcement cameras may subject Bellevue Police Department personnel to discipline.  Additional training may be required. The reported violation will be processed according to the following:

 

With Emergency Lights Activated- Automated traffic enforcement violations involving BPD emergency vehicles that have emergency lights activated, and evidence safe speed and caution, will not be cause for further inquiry or documentation. 

 

Without Emergency Lights Activated- BPD vehicles (emergency or non-emergency, on duty or off duty) reported for automated traffic enforcement violations that do not have emergency equipment activated (or do not have emergency equipment) will be directed to the Office of Professional Standards for inquiry into the circumstances.

 

v      Violations that are deemed justified will result in the ticket being cancelled or rescinded.
 

v      Violations that are not deemed justified may result in the imposition of appropriate discipline.  Training may be required for identified performance issues. 

 

In the event that the violation is not deemed justified, the employee will have the option of reimbursing the City of Bellevue for the cost of the ticket. This option may be exercised by the employee only three times in a revolving three year window. The reimbursement to the City of Bellevue will be in lieu of any discipline relating to the Photo Enforcement Violation. Training may be required.

 

There will be a rebuttable presumption that apparent violations are justified when on-duty vehicles are involved.

 

Unmarked or Undercover Vehicles-  Bellevue Police Department personnel     who drive unmarked or undercover vehicles should be pro-active about reporting to his or her supervisor violations they have committed in the course of their employment duties (i.e. running a red light during a narcotics follow or responding to back-up another Bellevue Police Department member in need of priority or emergency assistance). BPD vehicles reported for automated traffic enforcement violations that do not have emergency equipment activated (or do not have emergency equipment) will be directed to the Office of Professional Standards for inquiry into the circumstances.

 

v      Violations that are justified in the course of employment duties, and are executed with safety and caution, shall be reported by the employee’s Supervisor to the Traffic Section Commander as soon as possible for the purpose of preempting the ticket issuance process by the contractor.  

 

v      Violations that are not deemed justified in the course of employment duties or are executed without safety and caution shall be reported by the employee’s Supervisor to the Office of Professional Standards.  Such violations may result in the imposition of appropriate discipline.  Training may be required for identified performance issues. 

 

v      In the event that the violation is not deemed justified, the employee will have the option of reimbursing the City of Bellevue for the cost of the ticket.   This option may be exercised by the employee only three times in a revolving three year window.  The reimbursement to the City of Bellevue will be in lieu of any discipline relating to the Photo Enforcement Violation.  Training may be required for identified performance issues. 

 

v      There will be a rebuttable presumption that apparent violations are justified when on-duty vehicles are involved.

 

Vehicles driven for Off-Duty activities- Off duty Bellevue Police Department personnel who commit traffic violations captured by automated traffic enforcement cameras are subject to the ticket and the monetary penalty. However, if the off duty member (driving a privately owned vehicle or a police department vehicle) commits the violation for a compelling reason, such as assisting another member who is in immediate need of assistance, he or she should report the violation through his or her chain of command. Violations will be directed to the Office of Professional Standards for inquiry into the circumstances.

                                         

v      If the violation is deemed to be justified the Office of Professional Standards will notify the Traffic Section Commander who will preempt issuance of the ticket.  If the Chain Of Command believes it is necessary to view the violation to make the evaluation, the member’s Section Commander will contact the Traffic Section Commander to view a copy of the violation.

 

v      Violations that are not deemed justified may result in the imposition of appropriate discipline.  Training may be required for identified performance issues.

 

v      In the event that the violation is not deemed justified, the employee will have the option of reimbursing the City of Bellevue for the cost of the ticket.   This option may be exercised by the employee three times in a revolving three year window.  The reimbursement to the City of Bellevue will be in lieu of any discipline relating to the Photo Enforcement Violation.