Wichita police utilize cameras to crack down on bad driving, crime downtown

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

If you've been to downtown Wichita recently, you may have noticed cameras mounted on buildings. They're being used by police to monitor traffic, but some people are upset to learn they're also being used to write tickets.

“I think it needs to be a one-on-one with a police officer saying, ‘I caught you speeding and I caught you doing an illegal u-turn, I'm going to give you a ticket,’” Wichita resident Mark Rider said.

Police say it’s all part of a new program called "camera based traffic enforcement."

Sgt. Kelly O'Brien with the Wichita Police Department said, “The idea is to improve traffic safety downtown, to enhance enforcement efforts and raise public awareness.”

Police say the cameras are always rolling but only monitored on certain assigned days. When officers are monitoring the cameras and spot a traffic violation, police radio to another officer in Old Town to make the stop. While police are hoping to catch traffic violations, its cameras are also being used to look for crime.

O’Brien said, “They prevented a car from being broken into.”

Also, on September 30th the cameras caught a physical disturbance on the 100 block of North Mosley.

“Officers responded and learned a 22-year-old male suspect batter a 29-year-old male victim. Using the camera system the suspect was quickly located in the area and arrested and booked into jail for aggravated battery. “

Right now, police are looking at three main locations where its received traffic complaints like drivers running stop signs, running red lights or speeding. That includes 1st Street and Washington, 2nd Street and Washington, and 3rd Street and Mead.

Police say the number of traffic accidents has tripled over the last two years off of 1st and Washington.

Christina Caldera, who works downtown, says the problem areas are notorious for traffic violators.

She said, “We see speeding all the time and people going the opposite way down the one-way street.”

Wichita police have already found success with the cameras. On October 18th from 1 to 3 p.m., police monitored the cameras and witnessed 55 violations and issued 50 citations. Just last week on November 2nd from 9 to 11 a.m., officers saw 88 violations and gave out 55 tickets.

Yolanda Porter said, “I think it's good for safety and welfare of the general public.”

But despite the numbers, some like Mark Rider say the city should put up signs letting people know they're being watched.

He said, “If people know that they're monitored, I think it would change their behavior a little bit.”

There are 97 cameras total placed in different areas of downtown Wichita. Some cameras are fixed, but others can be controlled to look at certain areas.

Police tell KAKE News that while the cameras are not being monitored, officers will not go back and review recorded video to catch violators and write citations. Police say the video will be saved for about 400 days.

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