Interim Chief names new Traffic Division Commander

Posted by on April 12th, 2006 at 10:52 pm

[Captain Marty Rowley]

According to a statement on the Police Bureau website, Interim Police Chief Rosie Sizer has just named Central Precinct Captain Marty Rowley the new Commander of the Traffic Division. Rowley takes over for a retiring Bill Sinnott and the change is effective April 13.

The Commander of the Traffic Division is a very important position to the bike community. Sinnott, the outgoing Commander, had a positive impact on many issues including Critical Mass, traffic violation enforcement, bike safety and crash response. In addition to this, he was open and sincere in his dedication to traffic safety and worked to build effective working relationships with many citizens and advocates.

He was even cool enough to let me interview him and take questions from readers.

Without personal knowledge of Marty Rowley, I can only hope his style of policing continues to move this relationship in a positive direction, carrying on the solid foundation built by his predecessor.

However, my initial research (a Google search of his name) causes some concern. There are several allegations from people on Portland Indymedia that have witnessed Rowley use excessive force while working events downtown. This would be quite a contrast to Sinnott’s calm, cool and collected demeanor and could foretell a drastic shift in the relationship between the community and the Traffic Division.

I am also concerned at what seems like an abrupt decision made by an Interim Chief during a time when the Mayor is embroiled in a huge scandal involving Chief Foxworth.

But before making any further assumptions or passing judgement on Rowley’s character, I will put in a request to interview him as soon as possible. It’s important for us to learn more about his ideas and perceptions regarding bicycles. We had some exciting momentum going with Sinnott and I hope Rowley can pick up the ball and run with it.

Welcome to the Traffic Division Captain Rowley, I look forward to working with you.

[Photo taken from Portland Indymedia]

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cyclist observing ridersMickRandyEthanCraig Rhea Recent comment authors
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Ethan
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Ethan

I am pretty sure that Marty Rowley is the same officer who became infamous for his liberal use of physical force and pepper spray at Critical Mass rides. While I myself have some issues with the way CM rides have gone over the years, I have a much bigger problem with the brutal tactics that have been deemed appropriate to issue a mere traffic citation. When motorists get pulled over for a traffic violation, they are not wrenched out of their vehicles and pinned to the ground.

Officer Rowley, barring some personal transformation in the last couple of years, may be the very last person bicyclists want to see in this position. I look forward to hearing more about his views on multi-modal transportation, appropriate force, community policing and balanced enforcement.

Matt Picio
Guest

As do I. A cyclist isn’t much of a threat to police. There are very few places on a bike to hide a weapon, and a person’s manuverability on a bike while stationary is next to nil. If an officer has a bike stopped, that bike is not a threat. Also, a stopped car can run over the officer (it’s happened before) whereas a bike isn’t quite as big of a physical threat. The amount of force used by Portland police in the past IMO has been out of proportion to the incidents in question.

Note: I’m not saying that the police shouldn’t protect themselves, or that they shouldn’t act for their own safety. They have a hard job and the public constantly looks over their shoulder. Just…. there needs to be some kind of balance.

Craig Rhea
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Craig Rhea

I am a regular bike commuter and personally know Marty Rowley. Marty understands the issues faced by bicyclist commuters. My guess is he will be very helpful in the many issues we face. There is an element of bicyclist that do not follow traffic laws. They will continue to have problems, but for those educated in the traffic responsibilities we all face, Marty will be supportive. We are lucky to have him in such an important role to the bicyclist.

Ethan
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Ethan

Craig,

Way to NOT address our main points!

“There is an element of bicyclist that do not follow traffic laws. They will continue to have problems.” What does this mean? Anything goes if you break the law?

The measure of police performance (as far as use-of-force is concerned) is seldom how they deal with the “law-abiding” majority. One of the great challenges that all peace officers face is treating “suspects/offenders” with an almost amazing restraint. It cannot be easy for officers to do this on a daily basis, but it is part of the trust placed in law enforcement by society. It is a sacred trust.

He may be a great guy at your backyard BBQ, but his demeanor at Protests and CM rides not what they promote at the academy.

Randy
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Randy

After less than a month on the job, Marty Rowley is starting to show his true colors. First were the uncalled for arrests on the April Critical Mass ride, and now an eight to ten fold escalation of traffic stings aimed at bicycle commuters on city-designated low-traffic bike boulevards, where you can receive a $240+ ticket for rolling a stop sign at a speed most motorists roll stops signs at without a second thought. This is not maintaining public safety, this is a vendetta against cyclists. Rowley’s appointment to this position was a huge mistake; and the Mayor, who is the police commissioner, after all, should have known better than to allow Rowley’s appointment to this position go through. It makes you pause and wonder about the priorities of ‘interim’ police chief Rosie Sizer, as well.

Mick
Guest

Randy:

Everything I have read indicates that the CM arrests WERE called for. The police are right there – you HAVE to obey the law or you’re an idiot.

cyclist observing riders
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cyclist observing riders

I’ve seen “cyclists” in action, blowing the stops signs, not just at 23rd and Salmon, but all over town. They don’t slow down, they don’t look, they’re rocking to their tunes (which is fine, a driver listens to a radio in the car, talks on the cell phone, puts on make-up while eating and talking on the phone… but that is another rant) and on various occasions have almost taken me out, while I am on my bike commuting. But as I see it they aren’t cyclists, they are people on bikes that have little to no regard for anything in life let alone a stop sign meant to save their lives. Bottom line, they aren’t going to read any postings and try to change their unlawful ways, they’ll just keep on doing. We have great bike laws and leniency in Portland, but people need to respect all others, on a bike, in a car, on foot. And keep in mind, it really hurts, and is really expensive, when you get sidelined from a car while on your bike. ride safe.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Anyone who thinks they are above the law, simply becuase they are peddling on two wheels is in serious need of a mental examination. Traffic laws apply to bicyclists every bit as much as they apply to motorists. Everyone seems to have forgotten the notion that we need to share the road. If you’re going to be out on the road, try obeying the laws there too!