Yakima Police Cancels Emphasis Patrols Drops Traffic Unit
If you drive in Yakima there's no doubt you've seen plenty of people driving through red lights. While it's a big problem don't look to the Yakima Police Department Traffic Unit to help solve it.
The YPD Traffic Unit was disbanded because of a lack of officers
The Yakima Police Department Traffic Unit has been disbanded and the officers returned to regular patrol duties. Yakima Police Capt. Jay Seely says the unit was dissolved because of a lack of officers on the force. It's something that police agencies are seeing all around the state and the country. Many officers retired or left the force earlier this year after the Washington State Legislature implemented controversial police reform laws.
Patrol Officers are now watching for violators while answering other calls
Seely says now patrol officers in Yakima have been asked to "be mindful of this collision-causing behavior and either cite or educate where appropriate."
But patrol officers don't just focus on traffic they're answering calls for service, sometimes one after the other because of the lack of available officers.
Emphasis patrols, which looked for speeders in area neighborhoods and near construction zones have also been cancelled also because of a not enough officers on the force.
Police say it's up to drivers to be aware and obey traffic laws
Seely says since the city decided not to purchase red light cameras it's up to busy city patrol officers to enforce traffic laws. He says drivers also need to pay attention, obey the laws and watch for red light runners.
Seely says "our hope is we get enough new hires in 2022 that we can stand our traffic unit back up and get our motors out and about working traffic enforcement and education once again."