Olympia police use volunteers to crack down on speeders

Apr 19, 2023, 6:47 AM

(Photo from KIRO 7)...

(Photo from KIRO 7)

(Photo from KIRO 7)

We’ve all seen it before. A car races past and not a cop in sight to stop them.

Turns out the state capital is no exception.

Olympia police are highlighting their unique approach to stop the speeders in their tracks.

They’re using volunteers.

They don’t issue tickets, but drivers caught going over the speed limit get a warning in the mail.

This is just one of the ways they are trying to stop speeding in the city. They call it the three Es — engineering, enforcement and education.

What they want to do is remind drivers of just how dangerous speeding is for them and everyone else.

It takes no time to find someone in Olympia who has seen someone driving way too fast.

“Oh, yeah,” said Heidi Chambers, who visits her mother in Olympia. “People just cut me off. And like I see them coming, and I just slow down. And when people get on me, I pull over.”

“It’s pretty much in the midday and towards evening time,” said Ronnie Anthony of Olympia. “They’re just trying to get home. And it becomes an issue. Everybody’s just trying to get to where they’re going.”

In the city of Olympia, a trained fellow citizen could be recording your speed.

“It’s to supplement the officers out doing actual speed enforcement where they are writing tickets,” Rebekah Zeisemer said.

Zeisemer oversees the Olympia Police Department’s Speed Watch program. She says about 30 trained volunteers set up speed zones. Those caught driving at least 10 mph over the speed limit receive a warning letter and a reminder of the fine if they are clocked by a cop.

Zeisemer says a driver may not know they’re speeding.

“I think sometimes, especially if it’s a regular drive you take, you just get into autopilot,” she said, “and maybe you’re not paying attention to what your speedometer says.”

The reviews on Speed Watch are mixed.

“Yeah, I think that’s great,” said Andi Lineweaver of Olympia. “I think more law enforcement is a good idea especially with speeding and not just speeding.”

“I think it, no,” said Anthony. “You got hired officials to do that. We pay tax dollars for that.”

Zeisemer says they don’t have hard data on whether this works, but she says it appears to change drivers’ behavior at least for a while.

And, she says, officers are always out, able to give tickets to anyone caught speeding.

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Olympia police use volunteers to crack down on speeders