Traffic flow, complaints basis for Mercer Island Police Department patrol presence

By David Hamidy, Special to the Reporter

The Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD) issues, on average, eight or nine traffic tickets per day, according to Public Information Officer Leslie Burns.

“We work areas with traffic flow problems and stop more people for speeding than any other traffic offense,” Burns said.

Officers choose where they work traffic based on reported complaints, the number of collisions in a given area and officer observations.

“West Mercer Way and North Mercer Way, especially when there’s Mariner evening traffic, are both busy roads, so officers usually work these areas more heavily. All of Island Crest Way, particularly the 3200 block, where drivers are getting off and on the freeway, is also where officers like to enforce traffic,” Burns added.

Officers at the MIPD don’t have a ticket quota they have to meet each day, however, they are given benchmarks, or performance objectives, they are expected to achieve.

“For its size, our department is probably at or below average in terms of how many tickets we issue per day,” Burns said.

Luckily for drivers, there are ways to decrease the chances of getting a ticket. Many free smartphone apps, like Waze, a community-generated social driving app, have a large following that not only report police sightings, but also alert other drivers when there are severe weather alerts, accidents, traffic jams, and road closures. Waze reports, however, are scant on Mercer Island. Burns said that Waze hasn’t decreased the number of tickets issued on Mercer Island.

“Waze is a good tool to use when trying to avoid a ticket,” Burns said, “but there are also other ways to predict where police are enforcing traffic. Officers have their favorite places to work. If people are attentive when they drive and see police at certain spots, they can avoid these spots and lessen their chances of receiving a ticket.”

With 32 commissioned officers, including the chief, the MIPD is considered a medium-sized department.

There are three 8-hour shifts each day, and three officers are on duty each shift.

Officers are expected to respond to calls for service, enforce traffic, and write case reports while on duty.

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