Bear In The Air Tracking Unsafe Drivers

FELTS FIELD — The Washington State Patrol will have plenty of troopers on the ground this holiday weekend, but will also be tracking traffic from the sky.

“I am the bear in the air,” State Trooper John Montemayor said. “I’m that guy that everybody loves to hate. Most people don’t see me because they talk to the trooper on the ground.”

Trooper Montemayor has been manning a small plane for five years now. His job is to pinpoint speeding and aggressive drivers from about 2,000 feet above Eastern Washington freeways.

Beginning on Wednesday two aerial emphasis patrols will focus on local roadways from Interstate 90 in Ritzville to the state line.

From his vantage point above the Interstate, Montemayor follows half mile marks on the ground to determine speed, which is calculated with help from a stopwatch.

“We use those marks in conjunction with our traffic watches and these watches are set for half mile increments, and whenever we see a car that we believe to be speeding, we start the watch and the watch will give us a speed in miles per hour and the time it took for that car to get from point A to point B,” he said.

Once the pilots identify problem drivers they hand over that information to troopers on the ground so they can then turn their attention over to other potential traffic violators.

The aerial emphasis patrol will continue through the holiday weekend.