Portland Police’s Traffic Division reinstated – part time

INCLUDES VIDEO OF PRESS CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS | Watch your driving! Portland Police Bureau motorcycle cops are back on patrol throughout outer East Portland. Find out why they’re back …

Along SE 82nd Avenue of Roses, just after the return of Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division takes force, a drunk driver – with arrest warrants — is stopped. PPB image

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

On May 11, two days after the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) made it official that their Traffic Division was being reinstated, an officer riding an motorcycle (they call it a Motor Unit) arrested a drunk driver blowing more than twice the legal limit at .19% Blood Alcohol Content – and who also had arrest warrants – along S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses.

“Traffic is back!” the PPB sergeant Tweeted elatedly about that arrest.

PPB Traffic Division officers polish up their motorcycles before the press conference announcing the division’s return begins.

On May 9, at the PPB’s former Southeast Precinct parking lot, PPB Chief of Police Chuck Lovell held a press conference where he formally announced the reinstatement of their Traffic Division.

“I’ve waited just over two years for this day; I’m announcing that starting May 11 we will be bringing back our Traffic Division,” Chief Lovell told reporters.

Talking about the return of the Traffic Division is PPB Chief of Police Chuck Lovell.

“It’ll be limited; with fewer numbers than before, but we’ll have ten motorcycle officers, two officers in cars, and two sergeants – on the afternoon [and evening] shift doing traffic full-time in the city once again,” declared Lovell.

Watch clips of the press conference learn much more about this decision by the Portland Police Bureau – and how it might affect you:

Ready to serve
The reason Traffic Divisions officers can quickly be reactivated, Chief Lovell explained, is that “over the last two years they’ve maintained their certification, their training, and they’ve worked riding their motorcycles.”

PPB Traffic Division’s Sergeant Ty Engstrom explains the hours and shift the officers will be on duty.

Lovell then introduced Traffic Division’s Sergeant Ty Engstrom to give the details. He clarified that his team will be working a “modified afternoon shift” from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.

These officers and sergeants will be on the street in addition to the Major Crash Team, the Traffic Investigations Unit, and a lieutenant. “The shift configuration means six officers and one sergeant will be working traffic enforcement each day,” Engstrom said. “On Wednesdays, both details will be working.”

Fully staffed during Rose Festival
Additionally, for a one-month period in June, the Bureau will be bringing back all of the Traffic Division to help out during Rose Festival activities.

“This includes quite a few more officers on motorcycles and in cars – whether or not they’ll be participating in Rose Festival Parade and activities, they’ll be helping out with traffic enforcement, education, and investigations as well,” Engstrom remarked.

When the Traffic Division was disbanded, its officers were distributed to the various city precincts, and put on district patrol duty, replacing officers who’d left the force. So, the Traffic Division will be taking those officers away from precinct duties during the Rose Festival – and at least some will be returned after the festival is over.

However, Traffic Division officers will provide to the precincts their support in traffic-related calls for service, while prioritizing Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII) detection and investigation.

Staged in front of the PPB Traffic Division Crash Investigation Unit, the press conference about the return of the division continues at the former Southeast Precinct.

Says the need is ‘huge’
Engstrom said the decision to bring back the Traffic Division was  “because there’s a huge need, due to the increase in fatal crashes and illegal ‘speed racing’ going on.”

In 2022, there were 68 fatal crashes, the highest since 1987. Of those crashes, 32 involved pedestrians – the highest pedestrian fatality rate since 1948, Engstrom conceded.

“Do you know how many ‘hit-and-run’ [crashes] we get every year?” Engstrom asked rhetorically: “5,000 to 6,000 every year. The Traffic Investigations Unit investigators’ workload with fatal crashes has been so great, they rarely have time to investigate any of those hit-and-run accidents.”

A newly-reinstated, but experienced, Motor Unit officer goes after another law-breaker after being reinstated in the Traffic Division.

“We believe that having Traffic Division officers patrolling our streets will have a big impact in reducing traffic fatalities by ‘educating’ some drivers, and taking others off the road,” Engstrom concluded.

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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