Emphasis patrol nabs 222 Tacoma speeders

A multi-agency patrol targeting speeders in Tacoma resulted in 222 drivers receiving speeding tickets during the weekend of Feb. 7-8.

The special 10-hour patrol involved 18 law enforcement officers who focused on areas of the city where there have been a higher number of speed-related collisions resulting in injuries or fatalities to drivers, passengers or pedestrians. These areas included North Pearl Street, Portland Avenue and South Tacoma Way, as well as streets fed by freeway exit ramps and business areas with speed limits of 25 miles an hour.

“We enforce speed hot spots regularly in Tacoma,” said Sgt. Tom White, Tacoma Police Department and law enforcement coordinator for the Tacoma-Pierce County DUI Task Force-sponsored patrol. “People slow down when they pass several of us writing tickets; then, speed up when we’re out of sight. We call it the ‘halo effect’. But Saturday drivers had a halo over their heads all day long. From 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., the city was saturated with traffic enforcement officers.”

Officers stopped more than 400 motorists, and the enforcement effort went beyond writing tickets. For example, officers also:

— Cited 85 people for driving without insurance;

— Cited 41 drivers and passengers for not wearing or misusing their seatbelts;

— Cited 27 motorists for driving with a suspended or revoked license or, as teenagers, in violation of their intermediate driver’s license;

— Arrested 11 people on outstanding misdemeanor and felony warrants or other criminal violations.

“The good news in all of this,” said Mike Mitchell, Chief of the Bonney Lake Police Department and chair of the Tacoma Pierce County DUI Task Force, “was that of the 439 motorists who were stopped, none were arrested for DUI or other alcohol or drug violations. We usually make at least one alcohol- or drug-related arrest during a daytime speed patrol.”

The patrol was part of the X-52 program — it stands for Extra Patrols Every Week of the Year — and is part of a statewide campaign to ensure that law enforcement is constantly enforcing speed and DUI laws. Local law enforcement agencies that contributed officers, dispatchers and equipment last weekend included the Edgewood, Bonney Lake, Lakewood, Fife, University Place and Tacoma police departments, along with the Washington State Patrol.

The Tacoma Pierce County DUI Task Force will continue partnering when it resumes its schedule of Washington Traffic Safety Commission-funded DUI and speeding patrols next month. The patrols are scheduled for March 14 in Puyallup and March 28 in Bonney Lake and Sumner.