The Bend Police Department is planning to implement an automated traffic enforcement program, a system that uses cameras for traffic enforcement to improve safety in the city. Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz presented the idea to city councilors at a Jan. 17 meeting and received direction to move forward with an implementation plan.
According to Krantz, automated traffic enforcement to improve traffic safety was one of the City Council goals for the 2023-25 biennium.
"We wanted to start looking at and evaluating whether a system like this would be useful to improve public safety and traffic safety in the City of Bend," Krantz told the Source Weekly.
The goal for this program is to determine intersections that cause the most problems in the community. Bend PD sees this as a self-sustaining system, not costing taxpayers additional money to fund the system or the employees needed to complete the work. "Those are some of the big basics; to make sure that it's sustainable long-term," Krantz said.
The system would use both red-light enforcement and speed enforcement. The red-light enforcement would utilize cameras mounted near an intersection, which captures vehicles that don't stop during the red-light phase with photo and video.
The speed safety enforcement consists of a mobile or fixed camera, used to cover multiple road segments, which would photograph a speeding vehicle. Both are used to supplement traditional enforcement, sending a citation to the registered owner when the camera captures a violation.
According to the Bend PD 2023 biannual survey, 82% of respondents wanted traffic enforcement to be a high or medium priority in the coming year. Additionally, 73% identified speeding as a moderate to major concern.
Bend Police estimates that the community would benefit from a minimum of five intersections with red light camera systems. The cameras can only be placed within the city limits of Bend. Placement would be focused on data showing where the most accidents occur and where most speeding or dangerous driving behavior are happening.
According to Krantz, the citation process would be the same as people are used to. As with a normal citation, people have the opportunity to plead not guilty and request a trial in front of the municipal court judge, or they could plead guilty and pay the citation. Krantz said at the Jan. 17 meeting that there would be a workload impact to the court.
Bend PD does not yet have an exact timeline for implementation. It will have to go through processes including finding a vendor, creating a communication plan and hearing community input, which Krantz said will take time.
The program aims to be transparent, especially in the beginning, about what it is doing, what counts as a violation and where cameras are located.
"Our biggest goal is to ensure that this program is embraced by our community," said Krantz. "It's so important that our community advocates for this and supports it to move it forward."
According to the Bend PD 2023 biannual survey, 82% of respondents wanted traffic enforcement to be a high or medium priority in the coming year. Additionally, 73% identified speeding as a moderate to major concern. "We can't have a police officer in every corner writing citations, but we can have camera systems that do this work for us and really enhance our ability to keep our community safe."