City of Wenatchee nets $325,000 a year from red-light cameras

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WENATCHEE- Red-light cameras are becoming more and more prevalent around the country as a way to catch red-light runners and prevent accidents.

Captain Edgar Reinfeld with the Wenatchee Police Department explains how the cameras work and how a citation is sent out.

“They’re set up at three intersections: Kittitas and Mission, Fifth and Chelan and Orondo and Chelan,” Reinfeld said, adding that each camera has a field of view that can see the entire width of each intersection. “There’s sensors in the roadway and the cameras both, the camera fires when it believes by timing that the vehicle is moving fast enough to cross the stop line after it turns red.”

Each violation is a potential violation sent the contractor, the contractor does an initial sweep of what appears to be a violation and what is not.

“That thing flashes all the time because it thinks it’s more than likely you are going to commit a violation,” Reinfeld said. “If you stop before the light turns red and don’t enter the intersection–no problem.”

The information is sent electronically to the police department from the contractor, and requires an officer to review and approve any infraction for the violation, Reinfeld said.

“Over the first five-year study that we did after installation, we definitely saw a dip in collisions at these intersections,” Reinfeld added.

While they can’t say that red-light cameras prevent collisions, Reinfeld said they do help improve driver behavior with the knowledge that the cameras are there.

Reinfeld also points out that a red light camera violation is against the vehicle owner and not the driver so it doesn’t impact the offender’s driving record.

Captain Reinfeld also says the red light cameras are cost effective and do help reduce accidents.

“They are cost-effective in that the revenue generated from the tickets is paying for the entire lease on the process, so what we’re collecting is paying for the lease on the cameras,” Reinfeld said.

Officials with the city of Wenatchee say since 2010, the three red light cameras on average generate around $550,000 per year. $175,000 of that goes to the camera vendor and $50,000 goes to Chelan County for court costs which means the city nets around $325,000 per year on red light cameras.