Portland Police announce extra patrols after rise in fatal crashes

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
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.”

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Budget exercise causes alarm as Police Bureau proposes elimination of Traffic Division

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Traffic Division HQ St Johns

Not going anywhere.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Local media coverage of the Portland Police Bureau’s 2016-2017 budget proposal has sent shockwaves through the community. But there’s no reason for alarm. Here’s what’s going on…

Back in November, Mayor Charlie Hales asked all bureau directors to cut 5 percent from their budgets. Despite the City enjoying “relative fiscal stability,” the Mayor said the cuts are necessary to address the affordable housing and homelessness crisis. This is how it goes every budget cycle: The Mayor issues “budget guidance,” then the directors send him proposals with that guidance in mind.

The police bureau’s budget has raised eyebrows because, in his budget that was made public yesterday (PDF here), Chief Larry O’Dea proposed the elimination of three speciality units that have a major impact on all our lives. One of those units, the Traffic Division, writes over 90 percent of all traffic citations and is responsible for keeping our streets safe and sane. The elimination of the Traffic Division would cut 44 positions and would save the City $4.3 million in the fiscal year.

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‘Bicycling community’ work noted at swearing-in for new Portland police chief

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Chief O'Dea and Asst Chief Modica

Chief O’Dea (L) and his new Asst. Chief
Kevin Modica at the swearing-in
ceremony today.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland’s new police chief took the oath of office in the 2nd floor auditorium of the Portland Building this morning. Larry O’Dea was sworn-in along with over a dozen other officers who also made their promotions official at today’s ceremony.

I was there mostly because I figured it’d be a rare chance to see many of the officers I’ve gotten to know over the years all in one place. I also wanted to snap photos of Chief O’Dea (and others) in case we need them for future stories.

And admittedly, I haven’t been as excited for a police chief since I moved to Portland 11 years ago (and it’s so encouraging to have a peaceful and productive transition given the scandal and controversy surrounding our last two chiefs).

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New Police Chief puts Traffic Division in new ‘Community Services’ branch

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odea

Chief O’Dea in 2008.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

Incoming Portland Police Chief Larry O’Dea appears to be making good on his promises and his potential. The new Chief, who community advocates have hailed for his record on community policing, announced a host of changes to the bureau today.

Effective January 8th, 2015, the bureau will have a fourth branch: Community Services. This new branch will include the Traffic Division (previously under the Operations Branch), which is a part of the bureau that interacts closely with our community. Traffic Division officers write the vast majority of traffic tickets, they investigate collisions and hit-and-runs, they work targeted enforcement actions, parades, protest marches, Sunday Parkways, and so on.

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Why Portland’s new Chief of Police is good news for bicycling

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Platinum celebration at City Hall-61.jpg

New Chief of Police Larry O’Dea outside City Hall in 2008. He’s standing with former Bicycle Liaison Officer Robert Pickett.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland Police Chief Mike Reese announced his retirement today, and when the new chief steps in to replace him in January, his name might sound familiar to some BikePortland readers.

Larry O’Dea, a former captain of the bureau’s Traffic Division, is the new Chief of Police.

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An encouraging note from the Police Chief’s office

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Asst. Chief Larry O’Dea.
(Photo © J. Maus)

As I noted yesterday, there have been a lot of changes at the Portland Police Bureau lately and the Traffic Division – the arm of the bureau that is engaged with biking and transportation issues — has not been immune to them.

Today, former TD captain and now Assistant Chief of Police Larry O’Dea sent out a statement via email to a list of his “Traffic Safety Partners.” O’Dea has been a hugely positive force for traffic safety since he came to the TD back in January 2008 and, even though he left after 11 months for his current position, he has maintained an interest and involvement in the issue. With that in mind, here’s the text of O’Dea’s message (emphasis mine and shared with his permission):

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BTA, Police Bureau launch latest incarnation of bike light education program

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riding along with Officer Hoesly

A Portland police officer gives
out a free set of bike lights
back in August 2006.
(Photos J. Maus)

As part of their ongoing Eye to Eye campaign, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and the Traffic Division of the Portland Police Bureau have partnered up on an effort to increase awareness of using bike lights and being more visible while riding. Their efforts build on a history of bike light advocacy here in Portland that started over three years ago.

According to a press release issued this morning, the BTA will kick off the project tomorrow with an event at the “Seven Corners” intersection (SE Division, SE Ladd, and SE 20th). They’ll be serving “mocktails” (non-alcoholic beverages) and giving cyclists information about lights and visibility.

That event will be followed by a series of “targeted bike light education and enforcement actions” by the Police Bureau. The actions are slated to begin next week and the plan is for police officers to educate non-lit cyclists about light laws, pass out safety information, and install free lights (thanks to an ODOT grant) when necessary.

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