Deputies’ mission enforces street-crossing laws

The Portland Police Bureau pursues crosswalk enforcement missions monthly. Here’s why the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office has started doing the same …

It’s far from being a “sting”. These signs are posted at both ends of the Pedestrian Crosswalk Mission staged by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in the City of Maywood Park.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Mostly, it’s the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division that is seen doing “Pedestrian Crosswalk Missions” in outer East Portland.

But, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) brought enhanced driver awareness to pedestrians crossing the street in the City of Maywood Park, an area for which they provide law enforcement services.

MCSO Sergeant Brent Ritchie checks in with one of the motorcycle Traffic Deputies, as cars zoom past undercover decoy pedestrians.

“This is the first of five ‘Operation Undercover Crossing’ missions we’re conducting this year,” said MCSO Sergeant Brent Ritchie, watching the deputies on the lookout for bullying drivers along NE 102nd Avenue, on July 17.

“We received a grant from Oregon Walks and ODOT this year to do five pedestrian safety traffic missions, in addition to our normal patrols,” Ritchie told East Portland News.

“Here, at NE Shaver Street, we have undercover reserve deputies that are acting as our pedestrian decoys, crossing NE 102nd Avenue. As they cross, our traffic motorcycle Deputies are watching to make sure that people in vehicles comply and stop for pedestrian traffic.”

Instead of stopping, the driver of this Nissan SUV steps on the gas and roars around the decoy pedestrian crossing the street

… and soon, that driver has an “educational opportunity” with a MCSO Traffic Deputy.

When the drivers don’t stop, Ritchie added, “We pull them over and educate them. The driver could get a verbal warning, a written warning, or a traffic citation – all three of which, we’re giving many of, today.”

When it was pointed out that there wasn’t a striped pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection, Ritchie reminded that pedestrians always have the right-of-way over motorized vehicles, whether an intersection has a marked crosswalk or not.

Pedestrians also have a duty, he said. “When pedestrians approach a street, they need to step to the very edge of the crosswalk to signal their intention to the drivers that they wish to cross. This lets drivers know they aren’t waiting for a bus, waiting to catch a ride, or just enjoying the sunshine.”

Many drivers, like this one, receive traffic citations for zooming past pedestrians, already crossing in the street.

Later, MCSO Public Information Officer Lt. Steve Alexander provided statistics from the operation. “During the four-hour mission, 45 vehicles were stopped. Of those, 37 were written citations for failing to stop for pedestrians or for passing a vehicle stopped at a pedestrian crossing.”

Alexander said that all drivers were handed an “Oregon Crosswalk Laws” educational brochure (CLICK HERE to open a PDF copy) and were given written directions for attending a “Share the Road” safety class in lieu of a court conviction and fine.

“Special thanks to all of the Maywood Park residents who shared their kind words of support to our deputies during the mission,” Alexander concluded.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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