Video: A ride with the Aggressive Drivers Response Team

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Throughout this spring, West Seattle has been in an unusual spotlight – making a regular appearance on the Seattle Police Department‘s SPD Blotter website, as the Aggressive Drivers Response Team reports citation totals from staking out speeding-rich spots such as the east Admiral Way hill, the West Seattle Bridge, or “I-35.”

Like this (May 27th).

And this (April 21st).

And then there was the 92 mph citation on the West Seattle Bridge.

When this started to become a frequent occurrence, we asked for the chance to ride along. Police ride-alongs are fairly routine news-media fodder, particularly in TV, but since your editor here had spent so many years as an office-dwelling manager/producer, the opportunity had never presented itself.

The SPD media-response unit accepted the request, and after some weeks of phone tag, one gray day last month, we finally got the ridealong.

Not entirely what we expected. But if you’re interested in details about how the ADRT works – plus the one video moment when our assigned officer chased and snagged a(n alleged) speeder – now we know what the Charger sounds like from inside! – read on:

When we spent an hour with Officer Bundy, a 19-year veteran who lives in West Seattle, the 35th SW concerns were big news. He came equipped with a few statistics from the enforcement effort beyond the ADRT: Between January 1st and May 10th of this year, the speed van that is often parked near 35th/Dawson had generated 300 tickets. During that same period, the van’s visits to the Gatewood Elementary vicinity (usually on Fauntleroy Way) generated 196.

We toured a few of the West Seattle hot spots, but it was midday and not too busy. So the backstory generated most of the interest:

The ADRT, he said, doesn’t necessarily go out en masse to some pre-determined area each day. Assignments vary, and individual officers get some leeway to decide where they might go stake out, though they have other duties too – sporting events, parades, protests, traffic flagging.

When they’re out patrolling for aggressive drivers, a key tool is a handheld device sitting inbetween the two front seats (the second of which is taken up by the computer and video equipment), where the officer can grab it quickly:

That’s the LIDAR – which stands for light detection and ranging. It’s not really a “radar gun” since it uses laser, not radar (a beam pulsing 330 trillion times a second, as Officer B explained it).

Whether the user deploys it from inside or outside of the car, it can zero in quickly on a single vehicle, to detect how fast the vehicle is going and at what distance, and report that back to the user instantly.

How fast does that work? Watch how it all unfolds while we were pulled over on the westbound West Seattle Bridge, getting more backstory till Officer Bundy spotted a(n alleged) speeder:

In the end, the driver (whose identity wasn’t revealed to us, no worries) got a warning. But they had no way of knowing that till he finished writing something up and returned to present it to them.

The driver was going 66 – 21 miles over the speed limit, he said – and a 20-mile-plus-over speeder is that’s what they usually look for, “95 percent of the time.”

Of course, it’s not just about the speeders. “People are so distracted,” he mused, saying he’s seen drivers doing just about everything you can imagine while behind the wheel, including eating a bowl of cereal. More routinely, though, the officers are watching for violations such as cell-phone use and expired plates.

When you’re pulled over, incidentally, you’re being recorded on video and audio. Because of state laws regarding the latter, the officer has to inform people they’re being recorded, and he says that tends to cause them to “think about what they’re going to say.” It also helps in the formerly “your word against theirs” world of traffic tickets, as you heard him explain if you watched the video clip above.

During our ride, besides the West Seattle Bridge pullover in the video clip above – for which he had staked out the “gore point” by the Admiral/Avalon exit on the westbound bridge – we also visited the Admiral Way hill, where, he said, the connector road under the bridge is a favorite spot. Nothing happened there except for a sighting of other emergency units roaring by; certainly, he said, ADRT units will break away to back up other officers if needed, but in that particular incident, on his screen as a water rescue, more SPD backup wasn’t necessary. (Turned out to be the Water Taxi’s diver rescue, we discovered later.)

By the way – the challenges in getting to/from West Seattle during this time of multiple construction projects manifested themselves during our ridealong; after checking out the eastbound West Seattle Bridge, we had to go all the way downtown on the Alaskan Way Viaduct to turn around and get to the westbound side.

You might see them anywhere – lately, the SPD Blotter reports have featured a few Highland Park Way roundups, too. But wherever they are, Officer Bundy insisted, they are “not trying to be sneaky” – they want to be seen when they’re staked out, in hopes people will slow down.

24 Replies to "Video: A ride with the Aggressive Drivers Response Team"

  • Mack June 19, 2011 (3:52 pm)

    Today I was passed by a Jeep that was going 45 mph up Admiral Way and, a few seconds later, saw a car do a U-turn on Admiral. Dumb and dumber.

  • bebecat June 19, 2011 (4:58 pm)

    Believe it or not…U-Turns are legal if they do not interfere with traffic!

  • Kevin June 19, 2011 (5:07 pm)

    WOW – WSB way to go – great un biased video! Thanks for sharing! Thanks for the rare “rear” seat video.

  • csw June 19, 2011 (5:31 pm)

    Hopefully, they will encounter the guy in the white Jeep (with a “Peace” sticker in rear window) that has been cutting people/driving dangerously.

  • cjboffoli June 19, 2011 (5:35 pm)

    Interesting! Great video.

  • Recall McGinn June 19, 2011 (5:52 pm)

    Great article and video. I like the fact that one of our own (Officer Bundy) is keeping our streets a bit safer.

  • John June 19, 2011 (6:30 pm)

    Excellent article. Thanks for this reporting.

  • austin June 19, 2011 (6:34 pm)

    More than 20 over and no ticket, wow.

  • miws June 19, 2011 (7:12 pm)

    Very cool! :cool:


    WSB’s/West Seattle’s very own version of COPS! ;)



  • ScottA June 19, 2011 (7:31 pm)

    Would the computer check that is shown in the video have pulled up other speeding warnings issued? I sometimes assume that warnings = no documentation in the system but might that have influenced the decision not to issue a ticket? (I would have thought that 21 over is very fair to issue a ticket.)

  • Jo June 19, 2011 (7:37 pm)

    And, very important.
    Did you have fun?

  • RG June 19, 2011 (8:00 pm)

    Oh what I would give if only they would stake out Admiral Way SW…

  • NFiorentini June 19, 2011 (9:27 pm)

    I may never support another tax increase or bond package until tickets for 20mph over the speed limit become mandatory and the fines are drastically increased. And by “drastically” I mean 300% or more. Tickets here are way too cheap!

    There are too many people who drive like morons here and I really like the idea of a “moron tax” to help bolster the vastly under-funded street maintenance programs. Win-win!

    • WSB June 19, 2011 (9:34 pm)

      Officer B said they do issue a fair amount of warnings, as well as citations. They have discretionary authority on that – but seems like it’s always been that way. I was a reckless driver in much younger years (different cities) and netted an array of tickets as well as warnings. Certainly if the driver here had come up with a warrant or something else, that would have been dealt with – that’s part of the information that comes up onscreen once they’ve put in a plate … TR

  • More WS Family June 19, 2011 (9:54 pm)

    Did the officer mention whether he or other SPD support turning 35th into one lane each way like Fauntleroy, or for that matter, how he/they likes/like Fauntleroy since it was cut it down from four lanes to two?

  • SarahScoot June 19, 2011 (9:59 pm)

    I’ll admit to getting pulled over going 89 on SR-509 when I was 17… about 10:00 on a weeknight. I told the officer I was hurrying home to study for a test, and he told me to “keep it [my speed] down next time,” then let me go with only that warning. I was proud at the time, but wow, I should have been ticketed. That was far too lenient!

  • WSB June 20, 2011 (12:04 am)

    Jo – I wouldn’t call it “fun.” Officer B was pleasant. The few minutes captured on video were really the ‘highlight,’ if you could call it that, of the entire time – still can’t believe how they can spot a likely speeder, hop out of the car, hit the LIDAR, get back in car, manage to roar forward in time to be right behind the alleged speeder. Holding the video camera, I didn’t manage to squint ahead at the speedometer to see how fast he accelerated to, in that one short moment. And if you didn’t watch/listen to the video, I was amused that he called Walking on Logs “the dancing people.” – TR

  • clifton June 20, 2011 (9:16 am)

    Excellent as usual TR!!

  • David June 20, 2011 (10:43 am)

    Actually – Police Lidar (the Prolaser III he is using specifically) does 200 pulses per second. Some units such as the Laser Atlanta in stealth mode does 68 PPS which is hard even for radar/laser detectors to pick up.

  • goodjobspd June 20, 2011 (10:52 am)

    Good job Tracy! I am with you I was really impressed with how fast he jumped out and did all that. He was casually talking then at the same time was watching for speeders. It’s really impressive. Good job this is a great story and great service.

  • miws June 20, 2011 (12:30 pm)

    Sarah, were you on a scooter when you were doing 89? ;)



  • anon June 20, 2011 (1:09 pm)

    Does anyone think that the speed limit on a four lane freeway set at 45 mph as absurdly low? I really don’t find 66 mph on this bridge to be the travesty of justice most commenters make it out to be.

  • Robyn June 20, 2011 (8:47 pm)

    Very interesting. Great to know!

  • Officer B June 21, 2011 (10:09 pm)

    I had fun, and thank you for the interest, the opportunity to share an aspect of the job, and the comments…drive careful and be safe! :)

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