Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 8th, 2006 at 7:31 am
Officer Brett Barnum of the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division has been at the center of the fixed gear enforcement issue. He was the officer who convinced a traffic court judge to uphold his citation of Ayla Holland back on July 28th (the case is being appealed).
Then, just last Tuesday, Barnum found himself in court again for the same violation. This time John Boyd, a local architect, convinced the judge to overrule Barnum’s ticket on the grounds that the definition of “brake” was not clearly defined in the statute (815.280(a)(b)).
Now, despite this recent ruling and what would appear to be a statute in legal limbo, Barnum is still ticketing bicyclists for riding fixed gear bicycles without a hand brake.
One cyclist—who wants to remain nameless until after he has fought his case—contacted me after getting a ticket from Barnum Thursday night.
Here is his story:
“Yesterday, around 3:00pm, a certain Officer Barnum accosted me (after I- check it – stopped in front of my north Portland apartment after work), “noticing that I was riding a fixed gear without a brake.”
There were a few moments of what-if-your-chain-broke banter, both he and I were doubtless fully expecting each others’ comments-after which he issued me a citation for being in violation of ORS 815.280.”
John Boyd alerted me to this incident via a comment and said,
“I dare say that to me (this) would represent a squandering of city and county resources. This would seem to suggest that Barnum does not recognize the Judges authority in the matter.
Is there precedent for police repeatedly bringing known loosing cases before the court? How many times will he need to be spanked on the behind with a dictionary before his superior says “get over it”.”
This comment inspired another reader to suggest that cyclists consider filing an official complaint about Barnum’s conduct. According to a reader named Elly,
“There is a supposedly independent police review commission in Portland. You can file commendations or complaints with them, if you feel that a specific officer has done an especially good job or has failed to uphold their duty.
You can choose to file a commendation or complaint from the toolbar on the right.”
I’m not exactly sure of the legal situation here, but perhaps the Police should just give warnings for this violation until the courts decide once and for all
if the statute will be changed or not how the statute should be interpreted.
Are there any cops, lawyers, or judges out there who can shed some light on this?