what many are perceiving as a “Big-Brother” move, officers of the
Wichita Police Department no longer need to catch your improper left
turn or rolling, incomplete stop in person.
If you are caught making a violation on camera by a staffer who is monitoring Old Town from an office in City Hall, that staffer will call and alert a nearby officer of your violation.
The staffer will provide the officer with your location, a description of your vehicle and what violation you made.
That officer can then pull you over.
*“I hope people don’t perceive this as ‘Big Brother,’ ” Wichita police Sgt.
Kelly O’Brien said. [Yeah, right.] “Officers are monitoring public places where you
see it from public viewing. It’s just a way for officers to enhance
their abilities to protect the community and improve traffic safety and
also improve officer safety.”
Still, O’Brien knows not everyone will think this is OK.
did an informal survey before we ever did this to every friend and
person I came across, and it’s a 50/50 split,” he said, mentioning that
even his wife and daughter were not necessarily on board with
camera-based traffic enforcement.
There are 97 cameras monitoring
the core of Old Town, with particular attention at First and Washington,
Second and Washington and Third and Mead.
These locations were
selected based on the number of violations, accidents and traffic
complaints received in those areas, according to police.
O’Brien said traffic concerns are the No. 1 complaint the Wichita Police Department receives.
are concerned about specific intersections, and it’s a priority,” he
said. “Public safety is a priority, and this is one more approach in
enhancing the efforts to raise awareness to the concerns in those
The cameras are recording the intersections 24/7, but
staffers are currently only monitoring them during specially-assigned
two-hour time slots. In this pilot program, cameras are monitored during
the slower hours of 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m.
The camera enforcement
started Oct. 18. On that date, from 1 to 3 p.m., 53 violations were
witnessed on camera, 50 citations were issued and five warnings were
On Nov. 2 from 9 to 11 a.m., 88 violations were witnessed on camera, 55 citations were issued and four warnings were given.
camera enforcement is not occurring daily, O’Brien said, but he has
noticed that violations have decreased, citing “public awareness” of the
cameras as the reason.
Because of this, he said there is “nothing I don’t like” about the camera-based enforcement.
He does not yet have stats to prove the drop in violations because it was “just a general observation.”
O’Brien said officers plan to hold special camera enforcements during the holidays and when drunken driving may occur.
the 9-11 a.m. enforcement on Wednesday, Nov. 8, three staffers were
monitoring the cameras. Two were commissioned officers, and one was an
employee of the Wichita Police Department.
O’Brien said the
non-commissioned officer is responsible for logging violations. And
while the hub of camera enforcement is in City Hall, officers also have
camera access in their patrol cars.
The department is capable of
storing the recordings for 400 days, and it can use the tapes in court
to verify that a violation occurred.
O’Brien says the department has three goals for camera-based enforcement:
▪ to improve traffic safety downtown
▪ to enhance enforcement efforts
▪ to raise public awareness