By Jacinda Howard
Federal Way Mirror
Security upgrades and added police presence are the backbone of an effort to increase public safety at the Federal Way Transit Center.
The transit center, 31621 23rd Ave. S., is owned by Sound Transit, but patrolled by hired guards and local police. The city of Federal Way, police and Sound Transit are working in collaboration to install cameras with higher resolution as well as a direct video feed from the transportation facility to the police station.
Increased police patrolling of the area is already in place, former police spokesman Raymond Bunk said. Some of the upgrades have come in reaction to criminal activity. Other items are part of a larger regional effort to increase safety at Sound Transit-owned transportation hubs, Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray said.
“We’ve got some Homeland Security grant money and we’re looking at all our transit centers in the region,” he said.
Three high-resolution cameras were installed last spring on the Federal Way Transit Center pedestrian platform. They provide direct live video feed to police via the Safe City program. The cameras are in direct response to a shooting in early 2008 as well as an early-April beating that left a man with broken bones and his jaw wired shut.
Both incidents attracted large-scale media attention. The current cameras in place left police unable to identify the suspects in both cases, Bunk said.
The replacement of an additional 30 cameras to high-resolution equipment is scheduled for completion this fall. These cameras will be located on the platform and in the garage. They will make it easier for police and Sound Transit guards to read license plate numbers and have a more detailed look at the platform area, Gray said.
The transit center opened in 2006. Security cameras and Sound Transit guards provide around-the-clock public safety services.
Approximately 50 cameras now monitor visitors’ activities. But the cameras’ resolution is not perfect. Video is blurry. The need to increase the resolution of the cameras first gained attention earlier this year when Glenn Proctor, 21, was released after spending nearly a year in jail with second-degree homicide charges attached to his name.
In January 2008, a woman was shot and killed at the Federal Way Transit Center. The woman was a bystander. A witness told police Proctor was the shooter. Video of the crime was accessible, but it was difficult to make out a description of the suspect. Proctor’s lawyers hired an electronics engineer to pick apart the fuzzy footage. The man’s efforts, math and science skills freed Proctor.
Tools to serve justice
Soon after Proctor was released from jail and news of the April assault hit television, city council member and prosecuting attorney Jim Ferrell announced his desire to see the camera system at the transit center improved.
Mayor Jack Dovey also recently supported the initiative to better secure the transit center. The security measures are needed as a means to send the message that Federal Way will not tolerate a “thug mentality,” Ferrell said.
They are needed as a tool to hold criminals accountable for their actions, Ferrell said. Not being able to serve justice because of a lack of sophisticated technology is unacceptable, he said.
“What really spurred my interest is this homicide case went unsolved,” Ferrell said. “We cannot have that happen again.”
The transportation center, in its current state, is a safe place, but police are eager to have better technology to aid them in their jobs, Bunk said.
“I believe these were isolated incidents,” he said. “We’ve had cameras down there, it’s generally a safe area.”
The high-resolution cameras will provide on-duty patrol officers with accurate suspect descriptions. High-resolution video will also be more helpful in court, Bunk said.
Jacinda Howard can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.