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Red light cameras: Company under fire for web posts | 137 local infractions dismissed due to error

Red light camera enforcement, as seen at South 320th Street and Pacific Highway South in Federal Way. - Mirror file photo
Red light camera enforcement, as seen at South 320th Street and Pacific Highway South in Federal Way.
— image credit: Mirror file photo

American Traffic Solutions (ATS), Federal Way’s partner in a red light photo enforcement program, has recently come under fire for some unusual business practices a maverick executive was employing in Everett.

In reports released last week, it was revealed that ATS vice president of business development Bill Kroske had been posing as a semi-anonymous web commenter on the Everett Herald’s website. The red light camera debate is ongoing in Everett. Kroske is reported to have been posting comments meant to gain support for the installation of red light cameras in Everett. The Herald was able to out the ATS honcho after some investigative journalism from the newspaper’s staff, resulting in Kroske’s suspension.

In a report to the Federal Way City Council earlier this month, Federal Way police Cmdr. Stan McCall said the city had some unhappy citizens as a result of issues at ATS. A glitch at ATS apparently led to faulty notification related to alleged red light violations caught on cameras in Federal Way.

“There were a number of violators that were receiving mail from ATS indicating they had not responded in a timely manner, and some of them were receiving mail indicating they were about to be taken to collections,” McCall said. “We contacted ATS and had some lengthy conversations about their practices. (ATS) realized what was going on fairly quickly and they corrected the problem.”

McCall said 137 citizens were affected by ATS and its mail issues. McCall said those 137 infractions were dismissed, at the request of the city attorney.

“The city’s goal is to provide high-quality services to our citizens,” said spokesman Chris Carrel in an email. “Given the lack of timely action by ATS on the citations in question, the dismissals were in the interest of justice and customer service.”

In July 2010, the city council extended Federal Way’s contract with American Traffic Solutions for enforcement cameras through 2013.

Two cameras are located at the intersection of South 348th Street and Enchanted Parkway. Four cameras are at the South 320th Street/Pacific Highway South intersection. Another two cameras monitor the South 312th Street/Pacific Highway South crossing. Speed enforcement cameras are at Saghalie Middle School, Twin Lakes Elementary and Panther Lake Elementary.

The cameras have been controversial in Federal Way from the time they were introduced in 2008. In 2010, Federal Way budgeted for $830,000 in red light photo enforcement revenues. By November 2010, the program brought in nearly $1.48 million ($649,106 above budget), according to a financial report.

The money generated from the program goes to the Traffic Safety Fund, which pays for traffic safety, compliance, education, prevention and enforcement. Some funding is funneled toward police operations, the municipal court and traffic division operations.

Enforcement cameras photograph the license plate of the vehicle in violation. Offenses are reviewed by Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions and again by Federal Way police before a ticket is sent by ATS to the registered owner of the vehicle.

(This report contains information from previous Mirror reports.)

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