Wichita police suspend camera-based traffic enforcement pilot program

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Just weeks after unveiling its camera-based traffic enforcement pilot program, the Wichita Police Department is rethinking the project.

The department was using the camera system to write tickets for minor traffic violations in Old Town. But the city manager and Wichita police will meet soon to discuss use of the system going forward. The cameras will still be used -- just not for traffic enforcement. 

More than 70 cameras were installed to help police monitor safety and drivers in and around the Old Town district. Some were not happy about the program 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. 

Officers monitoring the cameras would report to officers in Old Town who then would possibly write citations. Now the program is on hold. 

"The chief and the city manager will be meeting to see how that process would work moving forward from here," Officer Charley Davidson said. 

The police department neither confirmed nor denied it had received backlash for using the program to write citations.

"We did utilize the cameras as an opportunity to see how they would work, a pilot program," Officer Davidson said.

Jeremy Parks said it's a good call for police and the city to revisit the program. 

"If they could take time and look at it, sometimes that could be a reason people aren't coming downtown," Parks said. 

With the pilot program, officers wrote about 130 traffic tickets. 

The department is currently getting its motorcycle unit ready to handle traffic enforcement. 

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