City's traffic tickets spike by 48 percent
• Jump due to motorcycle cops returning, police say
By Chris Fyall
Breaking traffic laws in Edmonds was more dangerous in 2008 than ever before, as record numbers of drivers found out.
Police handed out 4,939 tickets last year, up 48.4 percent from the 3,328 tickets issued in 2007, according to newly released data from the city's municipal court.
The jump is primarily due to the city filling its two traffic cop positions -- a position plagued by injury and vacancy in 2007, said Sgt. Karl Roth, an acting assistant police chief.
The city's traffic cops work on motorcycles, and in late 2006, one of the motorcycle cops was badly injured in an on-the-job accident and spent much of 2007 recovering, Roth said. The other traffic position was vacant for many months.
But vacancies weren't the only issue in 2008.
Tickets last year were up from 3,551 in 2006, and from 3,035 in 2005. Those represent jumps of 39.1 percent and 62.7 percent respectively.
It is possible the city should have seen the jump in tickets earlier.
In 2006, the city's police department changed its shift schedule, which allowed it to create a new traffic unit, said Roth, who oversees the unit.
The new unit includes two night-time officers who conduct emphasis patrols for DUI and seat-belt violators.
The department did not hire new officers for the traffic unit, but did shift some officer's patrol-squad hours into traffic duty, Roth said.
And if the police put more traffic cops on the road, more traffic tickets will result, he said.
"That's their job -- to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and to make if safe," Roth said. "If they are out there, they are going to be spotting violations.
"If they aren't out there, you aren't going to be seeing the tickets," he said.
While traffic tickets were up in 2008, parking tickets were down.
That's because the city's parking and animal control unit has been understaffed.
The shortage led to a dramatic 54 percent decline in parking tickets -- from 2,264 in 2006 to just 1,041 last year.
The city put a second parking officer on the streets in July, however, and ticket numbers have jumped from 48 per month in early 2008 to 125 per month in the year's last six months.
Reporter Chris Fyall: 425-673-6525 or email@example.com