A new bill in the Oregon Legislature would remove a major barrier to the use of automated photo radar cameras.
Current Oregon law requires that every citation issued by a fixed speed camera must be reviewed by a sworn police officer. While well-intentioned, this statute has led to delays in citation processing, higher personnel costs to do the work — and most unfortunately — a bureaucratic reluctance to install new cameras.
In Portland for example, despite clear benefits of fixed speed safety cameras, they are installed in only four locations. That’s just eight cameras in operation since being given the authority to use them in 2015. One big problem is our procurement process, but the other is strictly due to police personnel.
An August 2019 story in The Willamette Week titled, Speed Cameras Save Lives. So Why Does Portland Have Only Eight of Them?, explained the police staffing bottleneck:[Read more…]
The president of the labor union that represents most of the Portland Police Bureau’s rank-and-file officers made a statement earlier this month warning people that a recent personnel shift by Police Chief Chuck Lovell would lead to dangerous conditions on our streets. I just realized today that that person – PPA President Brian Hunzeker — used an opinion piece he read on BikePortland to support his case. [Read more…]
It only took 17 days for Tigard’s two new traffic enforcement cameras to rack up over 800 citations. And just a few minutes for that city’s mayor to draw a line between this rampant, normalized lawlessness and death.
The new cameras started issuing citations on July 14th at 72nd Avenue and at Hall Boulevard on Highway 99W in Tigard. By July 31st, the 72nd Ave location had snapped 662 potential violators.
At a Tigard City Council meeting on August 11th, Police Chief Kathy McAlpine recounted some of the dangerous behavior behind the numbers. McAlpine said the cameras caught one person doing 74 mph in a 35 mph zone and in more than one occasion drivers have been cited multiple times at the same intersection — including one person who was caught going one way and then caught again on their way back. Another driver was dinged four separate times in the 17 days. [Read more…]
In the first eight months of 2020, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers made 20,990 traffic stops. According to police data, between New Year’s Day and August 1st, 17.7% of the people stopped were Black — a significant overrepresentation of Portland’s Black population which was 5.8% as of 2019. Over the same time period, 64.9% of those stopped were white, a number that underrepresents that demographic by by over 12% (whites make up about 77% of Portland’s population).
Between April 1st and August 1st, Black people accounted for 12 of the 57 people (21.2%) stopped by the PPB who weren’t driving.
These numbers come to light less than a week after police in Kenosha, Wisconsin shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back as he stood in the street outside his SUV and amid a tense public dialogue about systemic racism and nightly protests against racist polices and police brutality. [Read more…]
The Portland Bureau of Transportation has ended a 15-year partnership with the Portland Police Bureau that centered around the enforcement of Oregon’s crosswalk law.
Since 2005 PBOT has conducted “pedestrian crosswalk education and enforcement actions” with the PPB. But in recent years conversations around the enforcement of traffic laws and concerns about racial profiling by police officers have intensified.
At a meeting of the City of Portland Pedestrian Advisory Committee last night, PBOT Traffic Safety Section Manager Dana Dickman said City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly asked the bureau to stop working with police.
“There had been concerns about secondary violations,” Dickman told the committee. “People were being pulled over for failure-to-yield, but during the stop they are cited for lack of insurance or a suspended license. And then the citations rack up… There was a concern we are potentially bringing people into a much more serious situation, impacting them financially, and bringing them into a legal situation in a way we didn’t intend… Our commissioner and community members felt that was potentially punitive.”[Read more…]
Whether it’s the Coronavirus Effect, a general sense of lawlessness, lack of concern about consequences, or all of the above — the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division has been very busy with dangerous drivers recently.
You’ve likely seen the headlines about a spike in speeding. This is happening for the aforementioned reasons and because the pandemic has opened up more space on the roads. Any armchair traffic engineer will tell you that when people have more space to operate a vehicle they will use it to go faster (like 107 mph in a 45 mph zone) and take more chances.
Now we have hard data from the PPB about how this phenomenon is playing out locally. [Read more…]