Police want photo van for traffic enforcement
The Tucson City Council will discuss Tuesday whether to grant the Police Department permission to buy or lease a van for photo traffic enforcement.
The van is one way to implement photo enforcement, which has become popular nationwide, especially in the Phoenix metro area.
The van would not be able to enforce red light running. Tucson police officers would have to follow specific laws that apply only to photo enforcement, such as posting signs notifying drivers of photo enforcement in areas where the speed limit is 45 mph or more.
According to a memo from Assistant Police Chief Sharon Allen, the van is one of several options available to law enforcement to enforce speeding laws.
The memo says the van would stay in one place and officers or trained attendants would sit in the van, as pictures are taken of the drivers who are speeding and license plates. A citation or notice would be mailed to the person informing him or her of the infraction.
While the notice would seek compliance, Arizona law does not allow for citations to be mailed. So if ignored, the notices would not be enforceable unless police could prove that the person who committed the violation received the notice, said TPD Traffic Lt. Mike Pryor.
Other photo options that are available but not being pursued by are stationary radars, such as those used on Loop 101 in Scottsdale, and photo red light enforcement which would place a camera on top of a traffic signal to take pictures of red light runners.
"The thing that vans get us is the ability to target enforcement in various areas in the city where problems are occurring, such as school zones or construction zones," said Pryor when asked why the van is being chosen over other photo options. "We can be reactive to those things with a van."
He said the other options may be looked at in the future. Currently no photo enforcement is being done in Tucson.
"We are always looking at traffic safety programs that might be viable for Tucson," Pryor said. "We are always looking for things that will improve traffic safety."
The mayor and council will address the issue during their study session at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at 225 W. Alameda Street.
Assistant City Manager Liz R. Miller said the study session is the first step in the process to determine if the photo van would be a good idea in Tucson.
"Certainly residents are interested in as many different approaches that we can come up with that are effective as far as traffic safety and enforcement," she said. "There are pros and cons, people for and against, and this is a good time for us to get an in-depth analysis."