Watch your speed: Kent school zone cams could bring hefty ticket

by: John Knicely Updated:

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KENT, Wash. - Starting Monday, school speed zone cameras went live in front of two Kent elementary schools.  At first, you’ll get a warning for going over 20 miles per hour when lights are flashing.  Starting in January, you’ll face a hefty fine.

 The cameras in front of Sunrise and Neely-O’Brien Elementary Schools use magnetic loop technology to check your speed.  If you’re going over 20 miles per hour when the lights are flashing, video and still cameras will capture your license plate.

 Driving 1-9 miles over the limit will get you a $124 fine.  The fines double to $248 for those busted driving 10 mph or more over the limit.

 KIRO 7 pointed out the fines are steep to Kent police and asked if this is a money grab.

 “No, this isn't about generating revenue,” said Commander Derek Kammerzell.  “This is the city council and mayor's office in partnership with the Kent School District to create safe school zones."

 The city of Kent estimates the program will cost $150,000 per year and will bring in $571,000 in the first year.  The extra money is slated to pay police overtime costs.

 KIRO 7 pointed out that the city of Seattle saw hundreds of thousands of dollars more than anticipated when its cameras went up.

 “As you put these up that you catch a lot of violators and then after about a year you get a baseline,” said Kammerzell.  “So you can't project long term sustainability based on those numbers.”

 Neighbors who live near the schools told us it's already had an impact.

 “After they put the camera up they started to slow down,” said Sunny Ma who lives right near Sunrise Elementary.

 The city of Kent hopes to add speed cameras to more school zones in the future.