BikePortland

Amity police chief responds to Reach the Beach ticketing incident


“Officers attempted to educate the riders by issuing traffic tickets since all other attempts to educate the riders have failed… It is unfortunate that such a great event and fundraiser should be tainted by such a widespread disregard for the laws.”
— Dan Brown, City of Amity Chief of Police

This past Saturday during Reach the Beach, hundreds of riders rolled through Amity, Oregon, a small town in Yamhill County about 45 miles southwest of Portland.

When many of them rolled through a stop sign without coming to a complete stop, Amity police officers began pulling them over en masse and writing out $317 citations. As we shared on Page Two this morning, one person who was ticketed sent a message to a local email list titled, “Amity Police Bully Reach The Beach.” The man who wrote that message says he objected to the ticketing because he alleges there’s no way the officer could have actually observed all the people he told to stop (because he was busy writing tickets).

Here’s an excerpt from the email:

“I am personally a bit outraged regarding this violation of my civil rights and would love to litigate Amity into bankruptcy. At a minimum they should communicate better with groups that wish to bring tourists into their town.”

We contacted Amity Police Chief Dan Brown to ask for his side of the story. Chief Brown said he’s a big supporter of the event, but that he gets many complaints from Amity residents about traffic law violations during the ride. He shared an open letter with with us and included the note, “Perhaps with your support, the biking population can improve their reputation in this part of the state.”

Here’s the full text of the Chief’s letter (emphasis mine):

On Saturday, May 21 the “Reach the Beach” fundraiser bike ride came through Yamhill county with a checkpoint/startpoint in Amity. This is a great event, and we support the event and the fundraising benefits.

My first official experience with this event was eight years ago when I was hired as Chief of Police for Amity. For days after the event, I fielded complaints from citizens about all of the traffic violations committed by literally hundreds of riders that had descended upon this community. Most of the complaints can be narrowed into two groups: Riders not stopping at stop signs, and riders riding 4-6 abreast taking up the entire lane, and in some instances, more than one lane.

The next year I contacted the event organizers and asked that they convey to all the riders that they must obey traffic laws. At the same time, I worked with the local volunteers that help with the program to provide information to the riders at the checkpoint at the high school. We also posted signs at the checkpoint that hi-lighted several pertinent traffic laws so the riders would be aware and perhaps would choose to obey them. Still, the complaints came in for days after the event.

Each year the event coordinators instruct the riders to obey the traffic laws. Each year we have tried to educate the riders as they pass through our community. And, every year the laws are ignored. This year was no different, except that officers attempted to educate the riders by issuing traffic tickets since all other attempts to educate the riders have failed.

It is a shame that so many of the riders openly disregard the traffic laws. It gives the event and the riders a very bad reputation. I wish I could say it was just a few riders, but it seems to be the majority of the riders that disregard the traffic laws. It is unfortunate that such a great event and fundraiser should be tainted by such a widespread disregard for the laws.

Chief Brown tells us his officers wrote a total of 15 tickets.

Reached via phone in Seattle a few minutes ago, American Lung Association President and CEO Renee Klein said she’s aware of the incident but hadn’t “gotten to the bottom of it” yet.

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