New technology to observe Tacoma motorists


A new operator of the 16 traffic safety cameras in Tacoma will bring the latest technology to the task of catching motorists who speed or run red lights. The city has a new vendor, SENSYS America, Inc., to operate automatic traffic safety cameras, which have been in Tacoma since 2007. Tacoma City Council approved the awarding of the contract during its June 26 meeting. Prior to the vote, Shawn Gustason, assistant police chief of Tacoma Police Department’s Operations Bureau, discussed the matter. The agreement is for the approximate monthly cost of $78,400, for an approximate total of $5,174,400. The money will come from associated traffic violations.

From 2007 until this year, the city had a contract with Redflex Traffic Systems. Gustason told the council about the success of a camera that has been in operation on Bay Street. He said in 2009 there were 23 accidents along this street. That number had been reduced to eight in 2017. 

Earlier this year the city put out a request for proposals. It received three bids. A committee of traffic engineers and people from Tacoma Police Department and Tacoma Municipal Court reviewed the proposals. The committee determined SENSYS offered the best technology.

According to a memorandum from Police Chief Don Ramsdell, SENSYS has a system capable of “tracking multiple vehicles across six lanes of travel, capturing exact speed and position at 20 times per second.”

The memo explained that the new system will capture more violations and produce enhanced evidence of violations compared to other available systems. It was determined to be the least disruptive to road surface and traffic patterns.

Gustason described the new system as “top of line new technology.”

The language in the contract has the city paying the company $3,999 per camera per month if there are less than 400 violations a month. This figure goes up to $4,900 per month with 400 to 800 violations and to $5,700 per month if more than 800.

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