County Sheriff Mike Reese calls for more traffic enforcement to stem tide of violence

head shot of man in a police uniform.
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese.

“I would hope [the Portland Police Bureau] would reconstitute their traffic division and focus those resources in high crash corridors.”
— Mike Reese, Multnomah County Sheriff

Multnomah County Sheriff (and former Portland Police Bureau Chief) Mike Reese issued an open letter to the community on Friday that said he is “Deeply concerned about current trends in community violence.” Among the five actions he thinks will help stem tide is a greater focus on traffic enforcement.

Reese’s letter outlined a near 30-year high in the number of jail bookings for murder-related charges and other serious crimes. He also mentioned the historically high number of traffic-related fatalities.

“We need to act with a sense of urgency,” Sheriff Reese wrote. “Summer is approaching, a time when we typically experience increased violence in our community… Without action, we can expect worse to come.”

When it comes to making streets safer, here’s what Reese wants to do:

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Engage in focused traffic enforcement in high crash corridors to reduce reckless and impaired driving. Base the deployment strategy on time-of-day and day-of-the-week when traffic fatalities and gun violence are most likely to occur and overlap.

Reached on the phone for comment this morning, Reese said the County has about 100 deputy sheriffs on duty, a number dwarfed by the Portland Police Bureau’s 700 officers. But the jurisdiction and population the County patrols is also much smaller. In addition to unincorporated parts of the Portland region like Sylvan, Sauvie Island and Corbett, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office has contracts to provide policing to Gresham, Troutdale, and Fairview. Their beat includes large sections of I-84 and major arterial streets like Glisan and Halsey.

While the areas in the County’s jurisdiction are much less populated, they see many of the same problems we have in Portland.

[Portland Police will de-emphasize minor traffic violations in move toward racial justice]

“Certainly on the traffic related enforcement, we’ve seen an uptick in traffic fatalities and reckless driving events,” Reese shared today. “We’re doing everything we can to encourage safe driving and not through just citations, through our presence by making sure that we are proactively stopping people engaged in really dangerous driving behavior. Like reckless driving and impaired or distracted driving, failing to yield to pedestrians, things that get people seriously injured.”

Reese also said he’s concerned about steps taken by PPB Chief Chuck Lovell to dismantle the Traffic Division.

“It does concern me and it does impact the entire region. Portland has such a large jurisdiction — whether it’s on public safety, community livability, transportation issues — Portland has a large footprint and a regional impact on other jurisdictions around it. It does concern those of us that work around the city of Portland, and as a person who lives in the city it deeply concerns me. The number of traffic fatalities, the reckless driving I see on streets. Portland has disbanded their traffic unit and I think that is one of the three legs of a stool that helps us have safe streets. Traffic calming devices are really important. And education is really important. And traffic enforcement in maintaining safe streets. You need all three.”

Reese said he wants the PPB to, “Reconstitute their traffic division and focus those resources in high crash corridors, particularly where you see an overlap with gun violence. So you’re going to have an added benefit by putting boots on the ground in those high crash corridors, reducing the potential for really tragic outcomes with accidents and fatalities. And you’re also going to dissuade people from engaging in gun violence.”

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Fuzzy Blue Line
Fuzzy Blue Line
2 months ago

Finally! It’s only taken 2+ years of senseless traffic deaths for a Portland metro elected official to stand up & say enough is enough. Yes I realize it’s coming from the elected Sheriff but it needs to start somewhere. Many BP readers don’t want to hear this but the “Defund the Police” movement has indirectly contributed to the increase in traffic violence on our streets over the past 2+ years.

Dwk
Dwk
2 months ago

Except no one defunded the police…they seem to be on their slowdown that Wheeler won’t address. They show up for nothing all on their own…

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Dwk

Except no one defunded the police

In fact they were partially defunded in direct response to demands by protestors and rioters.

During last year’s protests, Portlanders called for $50 million to be cut from the department budget, with the money going to community-driven initiatives.

The City Council responded by cutting $15 million. An additional $12 million was cut due to pandemic-caused economic shortfalls. As a result, school resource officers, transit police and a gun violence reduction team — which was found to disproportionately target Black Portland residents during traffic stops, according to an audit in March 2018 — were disbanded.

What’s more important than the actual dollar amount, in my opinion, was the overall anti-police rhetoric that accompanied the effort, including statements by a sitting City Council member falsely accusing the police of arson.

Regardless of how we got here, we are getting a taste of what a low-police city feels like, and I think it’s safe to say that most Portlanders do not like it.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/portland-among-u-s-cities-adding-funds-to-police-departments

Anon
Anon
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

There was a puny budget cut for the 2020-2021 budget year, and it’s not clear it had much to do with the protests. Certainly that tiny cut has nothing much to do with what’s going now with–for example, the increase in reckless driving.

Now, perhaps rhetoric does have something to do with it, but I would posit that it has more to do with PPB consistently projecting the message that they’re not available to take calls. True or not, that messaging probably has more to do with any large scale effects than protests that largely died out, what, like over a year ago.

And what about “personal responsibility” anyway–you know, the actual drivers doing the dangerous activity, but yeah, let’s blame it all on protesters who, sorry to say, didn’t accomplish much in the big scheme of things.

I also wonder if public servants have any responsibility for doing their job well regardless of whether some people don’t like them.

Another thing to consider is the pandemic that put everyone on edge. It’s amazing to me how often people don’t factor that into what’s going on right now, like all that stress, etc has no effect–it’s just all those darn protesters or whatever.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Anon

PBS, a well regarded news agency, wrote that story and attributed the budget cuts to a response to protestors, not me. Maybe they’re wrong, but weighed against an anonymous message posted on the internet, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Yes, the budget cuts were mostly symbolic, which is why we agree the messaging was more important, though disbanding the traffic police and the gun violence reduction team probably made a practical contribution to the surges in traffic mayhem and gun violence we’re seeing.*

Regardless, the politics of the issue has shifted pretty dramatically, and my reading of the room suggests that the fallout is going to strongly (perhaps decisively) impact the 2022 and 2024 elections, locally and nationally, and probably not for the better.

*Or not… a generation of sociology students is going to earn their PhDs arguing over every facet of what we’re currently experiencing.

Dwk
Dwk
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

So anti police rhetoric makes the poor hurt things not do their job?
The budget cut was nothing , the person who has the job can do it or quit.
If we need to pay more for police, do it. I am pro police to target bad drivers.
Target criminals.
The defund the police was a poor slogan, it never happened, the rise in crime has many factors but not ticketing Red light runners and reckless drivers is on the people we hire who are not doing their job.
I have lived in NE Portland for 27 years, can count on 1 hand the number of times I have had police drive my street, have never met one.
Not exactly community policing.

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
2 months ago
Reply to  Dwk

…the rise in crime has many factors but not ticketing Red light runners and reckless drivers is on the people we hire who are not doing their job.

Or maybe the police are overwhelmed as a result of Portland employing the fewest officers per capita of a Top 50 US city, compounded by a major reduction in the size of the force over the past two years, further compounded by the intensive investigative resources necessitated by our skyrocketing murder rate.

Alex
Alex
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

3% budget cut isn’t “defunding”, it’s a small budget cut, which, as you noted, didn’t even really happen in the end.

> What’s more important than the actual dollar amount, in my opinion, was the overall anti-police rhetoric that accompanied the effort, including statements by a sitting City Council member falsely accusing the police of arson.

I like how you just ignore why there was “anti-police rhetoric” in the first place. The PPB and the PPA have pretty troubled past. Not to mention that Portland’s crime rate isn’t tied to the size/funding of the police force – https://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2021/11/09/36865079/portlands-crime-rate-isnt-impacted-by-size-of-police-force-data-finds. I mean, falsely accusing elected officials for retribution isn’t a great look. The cops didn’t even want to fire him, Ted Wheeler had to do it and override their suggestion of 6 months off.

In fact, if you look at the most well funded per-capita police forces in the country, you will see that those cities have pretty high crime rates, but also a lot of poverty. We can’t arrest ourselves or merely “punish” our way out this situation. That being said, the enforcement and the politicking of the police around traffic and the budget cuts has been atrocious. Something definitely needs to change, and it honestly needs to come from all sides, but I really don’t see the police giving in, in any way at all. They have been trying to not have any accountability even when 80%+ of Portland wants it.

We definitely need some sort of traffic enforcement, or change in how we handle traffic in Portland, but let’s not make false arguments about them being defunded, or their impact on crime, and that they have some sort of history where they have built trust with our city.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

The PPB and the PPA have pretty troubled past.

Absolutely, they do, and I fully agree that the institution of policing needs to change. I was at least a little active in that area long before George Floyd was killed. However, anyone who has ever been involved in a difficult and complex negotiation knows that you have to approach some issues with diplomacy and tact, and making wild public accusations is likely to make further progress even more difficult. As it has proven.

I’m not really interested in debating whether our shortage of police is causally linked to our increase in crime; I think the issue is far more nuanced than that, and we probably agree more than we disagree.

The argument I made above, false out not, is that the political ramifications of the defunding rhetoric, ineffective as it may have been, are going to hit hard for the next two election cycles, which does not bode well for the progressive change I want to see across many facets of society.

To those who helped make that happen, I say “thank you”.

Alex
Alex
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

> However, anyone who has ever been involved in a difficult and complex negotiation knows that you have to approach some issues with diplomacy and tact, and making wild public accusations is likely to make further progress even more difficult. As it has proven.

Not to say that I disagree with your overall argument, but we did just have Trump come out of office who (unfortunately) made a lot of progress without “diplomacy and tact” – he made lots of wild public accusations. Also, the police have not been acting with diplomacy and tact and they seem to keep getting the funding and whatever it is they want. My point is that sometimes things boil past the “diplomacy and tact” approach because it simply doesn’t work if the political machinery isn’t there to support it. Sometimes it sets us back, sometimes it pushes us forward, but most of the time it does both.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

The police have not been acting with diplomacy and tact and they seem to keep getting the funding and whatever it is they want

The police have a very strong hand in their negotiations with City Hall, and it’s strengthening every day that Portlanders are reminded that someone is needed to counter-balance the rampant criminal and anti-social elements currently running amok. If not the police, then who? The protestors? (Just kidding; we got a glimpse of that in the CHAZ in Seattle… that didn’t go well.) Ordinary citizens? (George Zimmerman illustrated the problems with that).

If protestor’s call to “repeal and replace” backfired, and if “diplomacy and tact” is the wrong approach, what would you recommend?

Alex
Alex
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Honestly, I think a multi-pronged approach is probably the correct approach, as with most things, there isn’t a silver bullet. In lieu of that, having good leadership that can stand up to the strong hand of the police and is focused on fixing this very large problem would be the best thing we could do, but we don’t have that. We have a visionless mayor who is in over his head and is bringing down the whole city with him.

There have been cases of ordinary citizens replacing the police and they have been successful. I don’t think George Zimmerman is any comparison to an organized group of people like the police or an actual neighborhood task force of sorts – but he sure makes a great straw man argument. Chaz is also a straw man, but completely different. I do wish direct participation would play more of a role in how we run our society – but it’s hard to do that when capitalism is how we spend the majority of our time in order to survive.
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/09/07/we-can-solve-our-own-problems-a-vision-of-minneapolis-without-police

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

There have been cases of ordinary citizens replacing the police and they have been successful.

Are there any examples of actual sustained success in anything more than a village? When something as low-level as Neighborhood Watch is branded as racist, how would a citywide Neighborhood Watch with actual policing powers and likely armed work? If you think Zimmerman is an outlier, think about who would be attracted to that kind of volunteer opportunity. Look at Kenosha for another example.

I do wish direct participation would play more of a role in how we run our society

As do I; but you can see the resistance from activists who claim PBOT gives “too much weight” to input from community groups like neighborhood associations. How would it work if neighborhood association-like councils had even more power and perhaps actually did stuff like provide physical protection?

By the way, I read the New Yorker article when it was first published. It’s perhaps unsurprising to see the trajectory Minneapolis has actually taken since its city council vowed to abolish the police. I recall that it was mostly white progressives in favor of the idea, and the proposal was soundly defeated, along with most of the city council candidates who supported it.

Alex
Alex
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

> When something as low-level as Neighborhood Watch is branded as racist, how would a citywide Neighborhood Watch with actual policing powers and likely armed work?

Just because some instances have been racist or branded that way, doesn’t mean that all of them will be that way. I think so much of this really comes down to leadership, from the neighborhood level to the city/state/fed level, which is very difficult given the circumstances of how we are choosing to live our lives (i.e. capitalism and convenience as basically the sole driving force of all of our decisions).

> It’s perhaps unsurprising to see the trajectory Minneapolis has actually taken since its city council vowed to abolish the police. I recall that it was mostly white progressives in favor of the idea, and the proposal was soundly defeated, along with most of the city council candidates who supported it.

Sure, but honestly, all things considered, it was pretty split – 56.2% to 43.8%. Could you have imagined a split like that before the Floyd murder? It does look like one poll reported less support for the proposed safety department among Black voters than among white voters – but the precinct that had the highest votes in favor was the neighborhood where the most rioting occurred and a highly diverse neighborhood. I am originally from MN, lived in Minneapolis for a number of years.

Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)
Editor
Reply to  Alex

Alex, did you want your first sentence to read “doesn’t mean?”

Alex
Alex
2 months ago

Yes – thank you Lisa.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Just because some instances have been racist or branded that way, doesn’t mean that all of them will be that way.

I absolutely agree. It’s probably worth noting that Neighborhood Watch was killed off by Eudaly, has been left dead by Hardesty, and that both of Hardesty’s opponents want to revive it.

But… what is the proper “community” response when you find someone cutting off a neighbor’s catalytic converter?

I also lived in Minneapolis for a spell. It wasn’t really for me (not a fan of hot-dish), but I can see why people like it.

Alex
Alex
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

what is the proper “community” response when you find someone cutting off a neighbor’s catalytic converter?

I don’t think it would be too off from what police should be doing necessarily – detainment. I don’t know what the punishment should be after that – perhaps community service? probation? Probably shouldn’t serve jail time. Definitely don’t want them entered into the feedback cycle of our current justice system, which doesn’t seem to be solving any of our issues and only making things worse. It’s not just the cops, it’s the whole justice system.

I definitely didn’t agree with everything Eudaly did, nor do I agree with all Hardesty has done – but they do seem to be the only ones that have had the courage to try something different and stand up to the status quo, whether it was the exact right thing or not. I personally don’t think business owners need a larger voice in our city politics (or politics in general), and it seems that Hardesty’s opponent has received a lot of money from them. There are no easy answers especially when you consider the larger political, economic reality we live in.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

detainment

Random citizens detaining one another is problematic, and quite possibly illegal. Where’s the line between “detainment” and “kidnapping”, especially if someone is falsely accused or force is required (or both)?
It’s not like “detainees” will just sit in time-out until the cops come, and some will be armed. What if you wrongfully detain me, I miss work and lose my job, and I sue you? What if the detainee is injured? Or killed?

Rittenhouse escaped punishment because the jury decided he was defending himself against disarmament (and likely detainment). Ahmaud Arbery was falsely accused then killed while (rightfully) resisting being detained by vigilantes.

On balance, these situations seem better handled by professionals, even if the professionals are themselves imperfect.

Probably shouldn’t serve jail time.

The question I would ask is what would reduce the likelihood someone will repeat the crime? It’s not like people causing thousands of dollars of damage to someone’s property don’t know it’s wrong. If the underlying cause is addiction, and they agreed to treatment instead of jail, I’d support diversion into treatment. If a person can’t be deterred, they may need to be removed from society for a time to prevent them from continuing to victimize others.

Another point of agreement is that what we’re doing now is not working.

Alex
Alex
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

> On balance, these situations seem better handled by professionals, even if the professionals are themselves imperfect.

Really? Sure seems like a lot of cops have planted a lot drugs, make arrests with charges they know won’t stick, and end up killing and hurting many people; ruining families and lives, while not being held at all accountable. I think your “random people” argument is something you have in your head and not what I imagined. I am imagining something more professional, but more integrated into the neighborhood. You are imagining randoms carrying out mob justice, I am imagining an actual community where injustices caused by either side are held accountable and people still have to obey laws. The problem, to me, is that currently police aren’t being held accountable in many ways. They aren’t keeping crime rates low, so we give them more money; crime goes up, more money. They are tied to white supremacy, we give them a paid vacation and then keep them employed. They retaliate against elected officials and the police want to keep them on-board after giving them a slight bit of time off (thankfully the mayor did the right thing and fired the guy, but the cops didn’t want that punishment). The police should be held to a higher standard, not a lower standard of justice. That’s the goal, imo. How we get there can take many forms.

> The question I would ask is what would reduce the likelihood someone will repeat the crime?

The question I would ask is, why are they committing the crime in the first place and how can we stop it from happening? After the crime is committed it is too late to stop it. The answer to both of the questions is probably the same – they don’t have the resources they need to survive or they are in some other bad situation (drugs, victim of violence, etc). But probably more times than not, the underlying condition is probably poverty and lack of resources, which then puts them in circumstances to be more likely to be addicts, houseless, harassed by police, and victims/perpetrators of crime – and then you mix race into it. It honestly all boils down to resources, and what we as a community/country are choosing to not give resources to where people actually need them. So much of that is rooted in capitalist, individualist arguments – no free hand-outs, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, praise for oligarchs (Bezos, Gates, et al), everyone should just be concerned for themselves, etc.

> Another point of agreement is that what we’re doing now is not working.

Funny you say that, because everything you suggest seems to be pretty status quo. If you don’t think it is, curious to what you think you are suggesting that isn’t status quo.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

I’ll delete my much more lengthy reply and simply address your last point:

everything you suggest seems to be pretty status quo

I can see why you say that. I suppose it’s because I have lost my enthusiasm for big new ideas, given the lack of working alternatives elsewhere. I think the complexities involved with policing in a violent society that are such that it requires professionals. I think that efforts like Street Response and citizen oversight of police are obvious (and not even particularly radical) extensions of the current model, not replacements for it.

The history of revolution is not good; evolution and reform have a much better track record. For any social project to work, it has to be grounded in reality and deal with the complexity of the world as it is. If that makes me “status quo” in your eyes, then so be it.

soren
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

It honestly all boils down to resources, and what we as a community/country are choosing to not give resources to where people actually need them. So much of that is rooted in capitalist, individualist arguments – no free hand-outs, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, praise for oligarchs (Bezos, Gates, et al), everyone should just be concerned for themselves, etc.

Thank you for commenting, Alex.

SD
SD
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The anti-police rhetoric was earned.

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
2 months ago
Reply to  SD

The anti-police rhetoric was earned.

The criticism was earned, but much of the rhetoric was unhinged: “ACAB”, racial slurs against Black cops, suggestions to commit suicide, etc.

SD
SD
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark in NoPo

Regardless whether you call it rhetoric or criticism, the PPB, like you, has conflated extreme instances with the entire protest movement and progressive Portlanders in general, and has used that justify excessive use of tear gas, violence and neglect of duty.
The PPB/ PPA has always taken a “winner takes all” approach to negotiations and has not worked in good faith with the city of Portland. Their failings to control racism and bad actors in their ranks is well documented by multiple outside audits. They should follow the example of the health care industry and learn to admit and apologize when they make mistakes, formalize the process of inward evaluation to address systemic errors, and cooperate with partners in the community rather than monopolize and deny services to hoard overtime.
The panicked short term fight that has come from the police union reflects a lack of leadership and has been a disservice to good police officers. The latest campaign to grab more resources for PPB is disingenuous and many Portlanders can easily see through it.

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
2 months ago
Reply to  SD

I agree with much of the substance of your post, and we may have even crossed paths at a BLM rally. But the “extreme incidents” to which you refer are now commonplace: three nights ago, another.

OGB
OGB
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark in NoPo

So you just assume that because vandalism happened in proximity or time relationship with a protest, it was caused by protesters? What do the vandals look like? Have they any known personal associations at all with the protest movement? How is it known that their intention isn’t to discredit the protest movement?

Did you know that the guy who shot up Third Precinct in Minneapolis while shouting “Justice for Floyd!” turned out to be a member of Boogaloo, and actually hates the BLM movement? Also the guy who killed an officer in Santa Cruz and intended to kill more, another member of Boogaloo and a friend of the first guy. That’s just two of many anecdotes I can think of, which people mistakenly pass around as examples of “BLM violence.”

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
2 months ago
Reply to  OGB

Closer to home, in the weeks before he murdered Aaron Danielson, Michael Reinoehl often”worked security” at the downtown nighttime gatherings. As the Oregonian reported:

The night before the fatal shooting, Reinoehl was seen at a demonstration in the Pearl District outside Mayor Ted Wheeler’s condo. Reinoehl had brought his daughter, who was carrying a baseball bat.

Martika Jones
Martika Jones
2 months ago
Reply to  Dwk

Surprised Jonathan published this given his bias against enforcement of our traffic laws.

Matt
Matt
2 months ago
Reply to  Martika Jones

Citation needed.

Chris I
Chris I
2 months ago
Reply to  Martika Jones

After 2+ years of degrading conditions out there, a lot of people have come around on the enforcement subject. Go back and check out the comments on articles relating to the police from 2020. The tune has changed quite a bit.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  Dwk

Either way, there are not enough of them to adequately do their job as an organization.

dwk
dwk
2 months ago

I take it back after some research, they cut the police budget 3% in 2021 after the protests but have since restored it. So your talking points about Defunding is true if you actually think 3% made any difference and not that the police just decided to not do their job out of spite and Wheeler is too weak to do anything about it.
They quit traffic enforcement out of spite also. No legitimate reason given, something something about profiling that gave them a good excuse to do nothing.

PS
PS
2 months ago
Reply to  dwk

Having this opinion without mentioning or understanding the involvement of the DA Mike Schmidt is exactly everything wrong with what is happening here. The cops are not incentivized to do their job because we have a woke huckster of a DA who won’t press charges and dismisses a gigantic number of arrests. Have that happen for 2 years and it makes literally tons of sense why PPB don’t want to extend themselves for the entitled residents who already don’t like them.

Dwk
Dwk
2 months ago
Reply to  PS

The DA oversees traffic enforcement?

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
2 months ago
Reply to  Dwk

No, but the Major told police to stop doing traffic stops at the start of Covid and has never told them to go back to doing it.
And the DA would be better leading up a social justice non-profit rather than, on his own, deciding who is procecuted for criminal activity based on skin color, housing status, and political beliefs.

pigs
pigs
2 months ago

What so many people don’t understand about the “defund the police” movement is that we still want traffic enforcement but there is absolutely zero reason why a traffic enforcer has to be a cop that carries a weapon of any sorts. Honestly, we need more speed cameras.

MADD jill
MADD jill
2 months ago
Reply to  pigs

Cameras don’t stop drunk drivers

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  pigs

we still want traffic enforcement

Some of you do, and some of you have argued in this very forum that the cameras themselves are racist, especially if they issue more tickets to drivers of one race than another. Which they will, because the data suggests that different demographic groups violate traffic law at different rates.

[The data show a disparity in crash rates, which suggests a disparity in driving violations, because, generally speaking, if you follow the law you’re not going to crash.]

Alex
Alex
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

No one has argued the camera’s are racist (was that a tact and diplomacy you were using or is that a wild accusation?). It’s the enforcement, review, and placement of the cameras that have been historically racist. With the PPB/PPA history, it is hard to navigate those issues with faith in the current institutions that do those things. It’s documented in other cities: https://www.propublica.org/article/chicagos-race-neutral-traffic-cameras-ticket-black-and-latino-drivers-the-most

For the record, I have gone both ways, but overall in favor of cameras due to how much they can help and keep face-to-face police interactions down.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

No one has argued the camera’s are racist

No one?*

*I know folks have made similar arguments on this forum, but I don’t have the time to dig them up. I believe this actual article was discussed, but am not sure.

Alex
Alex
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Ok – the headline said it, but if you read the article it doesn’t say the cameras are racists it says:

“Journalists Emily Hopkins and Melissa Sanchez said the discrepancy stemmed in large part from road design in Chicago’s BIPOC neighborhoods, where there are a preponderance of wide, highway-like roads that signal to drivers that it’s okay to travel quickly. Thanks to decades of racist policy, communities of color are significantly more likely to be located in close proximity to highways, industrial areas, and high-speed arterials that prioritize the speed of drivers over the safety of residents.”

Which is quite different than your claim of:
“because the data suggests that different demographic groups violate traffic law at different rates.”

I am not really going to take some “SHOCKING HEADLINE” as proof of someone actually saying that the speed cameras are racist. The context in which they are used can be racist, and that was the article’s point, in spite of the “SHOCKING HEADLINE”.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Which is quite different than your claim of:
“because the data suggests that different demographic groups violate traffic law at different rates.”

That claim comes from Portland crash statistics, as I mentioned in my comment. The police issue a report every year (at least until recently, not sure now that they’ve given up on traffic enforcement) with ticketing rates and crash rates broken out by race. I’ve posted it before, and it’s easy to find.

soren
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

it doesn’t say the cameras are racists it says…

Sigh. Something doesn’t have to be intentionally racist to be systemically racist.

Traffic cameras are racist and classist because they target the red-lined and/or segregated neighborhoods where lower income people and people of color tend to live.

There are lots of ways to mitigate this systemic racism but inner Portland white “progressives” (who are disproportionately economically privileged people) tend to be resistant to or dismissive of these mitigations.

Propublica analysis found that “Chicago’s “Race-Neutral” Traffic Cameras Ticket Black and Latino Drivers the Most”

Alex
Alex
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

> Traffic cameras are racist and classist

Sigh. Traffic cameras can’t be racist – they are inanimate objects. The placement of them, by humans, and how they are used, by humans, is what is racist. The outcomes of these decisions is what is racist, not the cameras.

The rest of what you said only backs up my point, which I agree with.

J_R
J_R
2 months ago
Reply to  pigs

Traffic stops resulted in the apprehension of Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City bomber), Ted Bundy (serial killer), and Randy Kraft (serial killer). I’m sure all of them would have politely accepted a traffic ticket and a ride to jail from an unarmed traffic enforcer.

Chris I
Chris I
2 months ago
Reply to  pigs

We have 120+ firearms for every citizen in this country. Are you volunteering to be the unarmed City employee that pulls over a suspected DUII driver at 122nd and Powell at 1am on a Saturday night?

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

God help anyone tasked with enforcing traffic laws while stripped of any means of self-defense. As a factual matter, though, the country has ~1.2 guns per citizen, not 120.

cmh89
cmh89
2 months ago

Portland Police Bureau has had more than 100 open positions for at least five years. They’ve never had a lack of funding to hire more cops

bjorn
bjorn
2 months ago

I call on Reese to support automated enforcement of infractions like speeding and red light running.

Ethan J
Ethan J
2 months ago
Reply to  bjorn

Automated enforcement is difficult.
Most obvious is the issue with false positives and false negatives. What do you do to prove that you weren’t doing something when the system mistakenly believes you have. For instance, there’s a man in China who got fined when an automated enforcement system thought he was using a phone when he was just scratching his face (https://www.odditycentral.com/news/man-gets-fined-for-scratching-his-face-while-driving.html).

Secondly, there’s the massive issue of privacy and surveillance. What can the cameras do? How do they identify who’s driving the car? What organizations can see these feeds? Where are the feeds stored? How long will it be stored? How is that place being secured both physically and digitally? There’s so many unknowns that make this questionable.

Finally, if your car, say, begins accelerating out of control and a camera catches this, how do you explain that to the authorities? That sounds like a dumb, unlikely question, but it actually brings up something. Automated systems aren’t designed for nuanced situations.

For example, my family was driving to San Francisco as tourists. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, which is a toll road, but there was no way to pay the toll. We tried calling the transportation department, we looked online, and there was nowhere to pay the toll. Weeks later after we got home, we got fined for toll evasion because a camera caught our license plate. Luckily, the department handing out the fine understood what happened, dropped the fine, and guided us to where we pay the toll.

What I’m saying is that automation cannot replace human judgement and reasoning, and it’s a tricky line to walk

J_R
J_R
2 months ago
Reply to  Ethan J

All these complaints about automated systems. Think about all the times you’ve used an ATM and gotten the wrong number of twenty dollar bills.

Steve C
Steve C
2 months ago
Reply to  Ethan J

It’s the first result on google for “paying bay area bridge tolls as a visitor”: https://www.goldengate.org/bridge/tolls-payment/toll-payment-options/#One-Time%20Payment

It is a bit odd, not having a in person toll person, but so is everything else in these post covid times. It’s pretty clear there are a number of ways to pay after the fact without getting fined. There are also so many signs everywhere saying “FasTrak only”, hard to plead ignorance when 99% of tourists have ready access to a smartphone.

And the out of control acceleration scenario, are you kidding? If you can’t control your vehicle you should not expect to talk your way out of a fine, if anything you need to stop driving the car immediately and have it checked. A speeding or red light ticket is the least of your worries and shouldn’t be contested.

Zachary
Zachary
2 months ago
Reply to  Ethan J

Those are a lot of strawmen you built up. I hope you enjoyed knocking them down. That said, even if we are to take your points in good faith, please consider a couple thoughts:
1. Your call for human nuance is exactly why cameras are trying to avoid. It’s those very human biases that disproportionately let’s white/male/affluent drivers off with a warning and doles out tickets to BIPOC folks. In other words, we agree that human nuance is a thing, I’m just arguing it’s more harmful than good when it comes to speeding and red light enforcement.
2. Your example of the bridge toll unravels itself. You made a call and all was fixed. So, the tolling is automated and then if an error is made they’ve created a system for correction. It seems the system worked great.
3. Re privacy: Those are all excellent questions. And they have answers. Of course there is potential for abuse, just like there is potential for abuse by cops doing traffic enforcement. Everyone’s mileage may vary, but I’ll take a fight in court over privacy concerns over dead/injured people in the streets as a result of zero traffic enforcement.

Ethan
Ethan
2 months ago
Reply to  Zachary

I wasn’t saying these were strawmen. Just something people need to consider when building these systems. These systems are certainly effective, but it does come down to how much trust is put in them.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Zachary

It’s those very human biases that disproportionately … doles out tickets to BIPOC folks

As I have noted in the past, the Portland traffic division statistics show that they did not disproportionately dole out tickets to racial minorities.

Zachary
Zachary
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I would be thrilled if your contention about Portland’s data is correct. Would you share a study/findings from the Portland traffic division statistics?

Other large data set studies confirm my contention: BIPOC folks are pulled over, searched, and ticketed at higher rates. I will be the first to acknowledge I’m not an expert in this field, but I have reach some of the research and it appears pretty cut and dried. A few example sources are below. Are you reading other resources or just pointing out that Portland is an outlier?

http://www.cjcj.org/uploads/cjcj/documents/Race-based_decisions.pdf

https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-racial-profiling-ticket-no-ticket-p-20150510-story.html

https://sc.edu/uofsc/posts/2020/06/racial_disparities_traffic_stops.php#.YmB6Nt9lCfU

https://news.stanford.edu/2020/05/05/veil-darkness-reduces-racial-bias-traffic-stops/

soren
2 months ago
Reply to  Zachary

The ridiculous logic that Watts is using to avoid acknowledging that Portland’s coppers disproportionately target black people for “pretextual” traffic stops is that Portland’s microscopic (and mostly useless traffic division) did not show as much bias.

OPB: In Portland, Black drivers make up 18% of traffic stops, 5.8% of population

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

Pretextual stops are not really traffic stops; they are an excuse to interact with someone deemed “suspicious”. I have never asserted that those stops are free from bias.

I am particularly interested in genuine traffic stops (i.e. those by the ex-traffic division) for three reasons. 1.) They present an interesting case where everyone “knows” they’re biased, but actually probably aren’t; 2) They protect me in ways that I feel are important, and make walking and cycling, as an endeavor, more attractive; and 3) It is relevant data to the ongoing discussion here about cameras vs. human enforcement.

If you use population statistics naively, as you appear to want to do, you could also prove that the traffic police are biased against young men. They do stop them disproportionately, but you’d expect that because that group commits far more traffic infractions than, say, older women, so the disproportionality is not evidence of bias.

If you want to show that the traffic division is biased, you’d have to show that they stop people disproportionately to their rates of infractions. The data says they don’t.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Zachary

Zachary:

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/785420

I have been discussing specifically the traffic division data. PPB uses crash rates as a proxy for measuring underlying traffic infraction rates, which they then compare to traffic stop statistics.

They use a different comparison metric for pretext stops (which acknowledges they aren’t about traffic enforcement at all), and I haven’t decided if I agree with their conclusions.

qqq
qqq
2 months ago
Reply to  Ethan J

“Finally, if your car, say, begins accelerating out of control and a camera catches this, how do you explain that to the authorities?”

Why does it matter WHY you were speeding? A car accelerating on its own is an issue between you and your car manufacturer or mechanic.

And, in this particular example, why would you expect a break from being fined when your argument is, “I didn’t speed intentionally. I sped because my car is unsafe to drive.”

Plus, you can still contest an automated ticket, per your own example with the bridge toll.

James N
James N
2 months ago

I got my information from PPB while attending neighborhood meetings so apologies if it isn’t totally accurate and please feel free to correct me. The police at that meeting said police officers were evenly distributed between NW, SW, NE, and SE, regardless of need, and that the bulk of crime and 911 calls come from SE. A nice step would be to recognize East Portland as it’s own area and stop lumping it in with NE and SE and to give this area its own focus and 1/5 of officers for traffic enforcement. As I understand it EastPortland also has much more than 1/5 of Portland’s population.

rick
rick
2 months ago
Reply to  James N

I think an article or so from around 2015 said that any part of Portland east of East 82nd Avenue had 1/3rd of the population of Portland, but 1/4th of the land. Part of that is due to the situation with the landslide zone of Portland-annexed Forest Park (5,200 acres) which rarely gets direct sunlight and has lots of invasive weeds.

Brent
Brent
2 months ago

Discussions of police, policing, safety, and crime (and the intersection with homelessness) are so difficult. Of course the issues are incredibly complex. But in my experience, people often ignore and simplify the complexities in pursuit of making a point. Or they over inflate the complexities to avoid making a change.

This is a case in point. It’s easy to say more enforcement will hopefully make the streets safer. But we have to consider who is doing the enforcing, who are the subjects of enforcement, and how are they doing the enforcement. We have to consider what the goal of increased enforcement should be, and come up with a way to measure it. But those considerations shouldn’t necessarily stop police from trying. We should give them the tools and funding, the clear support, and mandate to do their job. But we shouldn’t just take their word for it. Measuring statistics, body cameras, and community oversight of policing are good and should help police get better at their jobs. And if a mistake happens, restitution, reevaluation, and change have to happen to move forward and improve for the future.

It is unhelpful to just say, “more police and enforcement = good.” Just as it is just as unhelpful to say, “all cops are pigs and at the very least work in and support the racist system.” Similarly, it’s unhelpful for activists or police to reject any idea or change just because it doesn’t address (or fully address) their concerns.

Of course this all takes a minimum amount of mutual trust and respect to believe that a system can improve over time with input and effort from everyone. There is very little of that these days. Maybe I’m the one who is ignoring this important complexity to make a point.

Charley
Charley
2 months ago

I think Sheriff Reese is right.

I also wish that extremists (from the cops who love to bash heads to the “activists” who live to burn down public property) would be disempowered, and the rest of us could simply deal with our city’s problems.