The Wenatchee Police Department (WPD) has established a Traffic Bureau that will focus on a number of enforcement issues that have been raised in recent years.  Captain Brian Chance and Sgt. Erik Vasguez said the WPD wanted to find a new way to address those complaints.

"We heard concerns that were being brought forward to the Wenatchee police department through citizen complaints or concerns, and from city council people that were taking calls from their constituents that revolved greatly around traffic concerns and what was going on with enforcement. Those questions were relayed to us and we  were hearing from our own staff that they were seeing a lot of those same things and wanting to find a way to address it" according to Chance in a recent interview on KPQ's Agenda program.

Sgt. Vasquesz said the department gets the most complaints about speed, racing and loud mufflers or noise complaints.   "And some of the public actually calls in where they believe that some some rounds have been fired or something (they heard) had been a shot (gun). And so we have to respond to those things accordingly. And we do our investigation and find out those are actually just backfire from loud mufflers."

Chance and Vasquez said speeding complaints have centered around areas near schools and on neighborhood streets where people are concerned about parked cars on narrow streets.  Vasquez says the Valley North Center is popular gathering spot on Friday or Saturday nights where drivers perform spinouts or burnouts in the parking lot.  Racing has been a problem on two one-way streets through downtown Wenatchee on Mission Street and Chelan Avenue

How Will Wenatchee Police Traffic Bureau Focus on Racing, Speeding and Modified Muffler Enforcement?

Officer Rheid Cline says the focus on modified muffler exhaust system enforcement will emphasize education since many people are unaware of the RCW regarding altered exhaust systems.  Cline said in 2023,  RiverCom 911 received and dispatched Wenatchee Police officers 187 times to reports of possible shots fired calls. 16 of those calls were determined to have actually involved a weapon and 6 were fireworks related.  Cline says the balance of 165 were likely, if not all a backfire from a modified exhaust system that was confused as a gunshot by a concerned citizen.  Each incident required an officer to respond and to investigate the area for any evidence of a shooting or possible victim(s) drawing valuable resources away from patrols on duty.

Racing enforcement is proving to be more difficult and is a problem between the signals between Fifth Street and Ninth on Mission and Chelan.  Enforcing racing laws present a challenge for officers having to drive at high speed to catch violators.  However, new laws mean drivers caught street racing are subject to steep fines and vehicle seizure and forfeiture.  Cline says the new beefed up legislation was designed to serve as a deterrent to street racing.

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The WPD Traffic Bureau has identified 8 major objectives

  • Speed
  • Seatbelt compliance
  • Distracted driving
  • School Zone safety
  • Alcohol and Drug DUI
  • Reckless driving
  • Racing
  • Collisions

The Wenatchee Police Department Traffic Bureau is funded through a 2-year agreement with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) through 2025.  The agreement provides for three new positions including two traffic officers assigned to the Traffic Bureau and funding for half of a sergeant's position.  The WPD agreed to maintain the staffing after the WTSC support ends after two years.

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