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Speedwatch SLC maps traffic enforcement to prevent speeding

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Posted at 10:31 PM, Oct 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-31 09:03:51-04

SALT LAKE CIT Y -- It’s called Speedwatch SLC -- cops making the roads safer. We’re talking about streets in Salt Lake City with a reputation for luring the lead footed. Streets where police officers patrol time and time again, giving countless speeding tickets.

Salt Lake City officers said they aren’t out to get drivers, and don’t want to ticket people, but this traffic enforcement is all part of Speedwatch SLC, and they said they are just responding to and investigating complaints that come in.

FOX 13 News caught up with several officers at Virginia Street and 3rd Avenue. The area is a notorious speed zone. So much so, resident Paul Jones has complained to police.

“It’s rude, and it’s a real safety hazard,” Jones said.

Most of the complaints the Salt Lake City Police Department gets throughout the city are about drivers going too fast.

Detective Cody Lougy said, “They’ll generally give us a time frame when this occurs, an address and a location, and then what we do is we send that over to our motor division and they assign a motor officer to actually work that area.”

We got our hands on a couple complaints filed.

One resident wrote, “What I do know is that I have been witness to dozens maybe countless encroachments and the like over the many years when I lived in this neighborhood in SLC.”

Another resident’s email states, “The speed limit is 30 miles an hour, and I have had so many people running up on the back of my car for me doing the speed limit there.”

The 9th and 9th neighborhood has had its fair share of complaints. The speed limit there is 25 miles per hour, but some speeders we talked to seemed to have missed the sign. We asked Sattar Tabriz, a resident in the area, if he knew what the speed limit was.

He said, “Not exactly. I thought it was more like 30 to 35.”

Kara Ingraham said, “I didn’t have a clue.”

According to police, once a complaint is filed, they open an investigation, sending officers to patrol the area several times. Tabriz, who was pulled over for speeding, said, “I’ve taken traffic school sometime in the past and they’ve actually told me right here in this spot that there are cops.”

“Hoping people see us out there working that area and hopefully if they think about speeding they never know if we’re just right around the corner watching for that," Lougy said.

Another speeder who didn’t want to be identified told FOX 13 News: “I don’t necessarily think they are always implementing their job in the best way. I think there are situations where they could be doing it better, there are situations where they’re doing an exemplary, and this is one situation where it’s just a common responsibility of me to reduce my speed in a zone where I’m going too fast.”

Whether officers write a speeding ticket or dish out a stern warning, their ultimate goal is volunteer compliance.

“If we can mix up our patrol function and mix up our enforcement times and dates and people kind of get the idea that we may be there, slow down, that’s what we’re looking for,” Lougy said.

If you want to avoid a speeding ticket and you live in Salt Lake City, or are driving through, there’s a map you need to see. It tracks where cops might be and it’s public. The map isn’t in real time, but it shows where cops are likely watching for speeders.

A speeding ticket in Salt Lake City costs $120 to $470 and the cost goes up in school and construction zones. Last year, the Salt Lake City Police Department issued nearly 13,000 speeding tickets. FOX 13 News reviewed the records and the top three hot spots are:

• Foothill Drive between 1800 and 2100 South
• 400 South between 450 and 750 West
• Intersection of 2100 South and 1600 East

Lougy told FOX 13 News: “It’s not big secret where we’re going to be working.”

Why isn’t it a big secret? Because Salt Lake City has an online map that shows you where they are watching the road. It’s an online tool that might help you avoid a costly citation. Click here for the map.

Detective Lougy added, “It’s right on our website… Wherever the residents are sending us complaint, we’re responding to those complaints.”

The map just looks like a bunch of dots, but here’s what it tells us: If it’s green, it’s an active working speed watch assignment. If it’s red, it’s been closed out. Drivers can click on a specific dot on the map and see the officer on the case, the day it was assigned, what the complaint was, where, and how many tickets were written.

Detective Lougy said, “This map is fed by the citizens, so they’re telling us where the issues are at and where the complaints are at.”

The dots are not real time. It’s not a guarantee the cop is there when you see it. It does mean there’s a higher chance of enforcement in that area.

“They go back there three different times and basically if they can see, if they can get the residents to comply with a speed limit and slow down," Lougy said.

Revenue generated from all traffic citations goes into the city’s general fund. So far in 2014, the Salt Lake City Police Department has issued over 19,000 traffic citations. That’s compared to just over 17,500 this year in West Valley City.

Officers said the Salt Lake City Police Department does not have a quota system regarding the number of traffic tickets written. However, there are officers on the motor squad who’s specific job is traffic enforcement and with ten hour shifts, they will be ticketing drivers.