The Washington State Patrol (WSP) is conducting aerial speed patrols in Grant and Kittitas Counties this week.

The patrols will focus on over 100 miles of Interstate-90 (I-90) from Snoqualmie Pass to Moses Lake between now and Friday (June 7).

Trooper Jeremy Weber says the patrols are an effective and efficient way of catching speeders.

"We can literally be working all over the place on I-90 - not just in one area - and the plane will just fly and periodically pick out cars that are going too fast by obtaining their speed and then call down to us so we can contact that speeder. Speed is one of the number one reasons we have collisions, so the goal is to try and reduce the number of those collisions."

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Weber adds that the aerial enforcement efforts are a nice change of pace from WSP's standard terrestrial patrols.

"I actually really enjoy working aircraft detail and that's why I'll be on the ground to help out. The plane does all the work and they're able to see quite a bit from the skies. So when people get upset about getting caught speeding, I just point up in the air and say 'look, I'm just the messenger'."

Weber says the aerial patrols used to feature just a single pilot who would also work with the necessary instruments to check for speed infractions. Now, however, patrol planes have a two-person crew, including one who uses state-of-the-art technologies to look for speeders while the other concentrates solely on flying and navigating the aircraft.

WSP aircraft are also used to patrol for reckless and drunk driving, marijuana eradication, suspect surveillance, and transporting government officials.

This week's patrols are called TZAPs or Target Zero Air Patrols and are part of WSP's Target Zero effort to reduce collisions on state roadways.

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Gallery Credit: Billy Jenkins

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