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Portland Police announce extra patrols after rise in fatal crashes


Chief O'Dea
Chief O’Dea is not messing around.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This is not an April Fools post.

The Portland Police Bureau has seen enough. After a troubling spate of fatal crashes on Portland roads, the bureau announced this morning they’ll be doing additional traffic enforcement citywide.

Yesterday’s morning fatal collision on SE Powell Boulevard was the 12th so far this year. That’s up from seven last year at this time. The PPB sends out their Major Crash Team — a special unit that includes experts in crash reconstruction and analysis — each time there’s a fatal or serious injury collision. A statement released by the PPB this morning says that the unit averages about 14 cases in the first three months of the year. However in 2016, they’ve already responded to 23 fatal or serious injury crashes.

PPB Chief Larry O’Dea, a former commander of the Traffic Division, said he’s making the announcement “in response to this devasting series of events.”

In the past few weeks, the Portland Police Bureau has responded to and investigated several fatal traffic crashes in the City of Portland. So far in 2016, the Traffic Division has investigated 12 fatal crashes, compared to 7 last year at the same time. “Of particular concern,” said the statement, “is that many of these crashes have involved vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, bicycle riders and motorcycle riders.”

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Here’s more from the statement:

Beginning today, March 31, 2016, directed traffic patrols at each precinct, in addition to the Traffic Division, will be conducting extra patrols specifically focused on traffic safety. Additionally, Chief O’Dea is encouraging all officers to conduct more stops of road users for traffic violations and to have a conversation about traffic safety. As always, officers have the discretion of when or when not to issue a citation.

The goal of the extra patrols is to “increase community safety” and “change behavior.” Chief O’Dea says measures like this are necessary “To truly reach the goals outlined in Vision Zero.” “The Portland Police Bureau is committed to working with our partners in government and the community to create safer streets and work toward reducing, and eventually eliminating, traffic fatalities as part of Vision Zero.

According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, of the 12 fatal crashes so far this year four of the people were driving, two were riding a motorcycle, five were walking (including two people who died walking in lanes of Interstate 5), and one was riding a bike. Six of the fatalities happened in the month March and eight of them occurred east of 104th Avenue.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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