With school out for the year, Spokane city officials are already discussing how they are going to be tougher on drivers in school zones during next school year, according to the Spokesman-Review.
The city plans to expand the school zone camera program to two more schools – Ridgeview and Willard. Since 2016, school zone cameras have caught 21,500 drivers speeding past Longfellow and Finch elementary schools, generating $4 million. Yes, you read that right. Four. Million. Dollars. Through the middle of 2020, $1 million of that will be set aside to pay for more traffic officers to patrol near schools. Another $1.2 million will go to construction projects in the next few years that have been requested by neighborhood councils to slow traffic, including more prominent crosswalks, larger street signs and bigger medians.
Under new rules recently approved by Spokane’s City Council, the Police Department’s Traffic Unit, currently comprised of six officers, will dispatch more officers to school zones than the four neighborhood resource officers who were assigned school traffic duty under a previous resolution by the Spokane City Council. The money collected from tickets will now be used to pay the salaries of the existing four neighborhood resource officers when current funding levels expire at the end of this year.
The city plans to spend more than $250,000 this year on construction projects near schools from the school-zone speeding fund, and applications for future projects have been increasing.
City officials say the program is succeeding in reducing the number of speeders in school zones. A Spokane Police report provided to council members earlier this month showed the number of tickets issued dropped 20 percent at Longfellow Elementary in 2017, compared to the school year prior. At Finch Elementary, where the number of citations is much lower, tickets dropped 5 percent in the same time period. Early 2018 numbers show citations will continue to fall this year.
The school zone cameras have been shut off for the summer months.