PPB steps up patrols in wake of recent crashes - KPTV - FOX 12

PPB steps up patrols in wake of recent crashes

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A car pulled over in SE Portland during PPB's specialized patrols Friday. A car pulled over in SE Portland during PPB's specialized patrols Friday.

It’s been a deadly start to 2016 on the streets of Portland, and now police are stepping up patrols in response to the overwhelming number of recent crashes involving deaths and serious injuries.

A dozen people have been killed in Portland so far this year, up from seven over the same time period last year. On average, the Major Crash Team investigates 14 serious or deadly crashes in the first three months of the year, but in 2016 the team has already been called out to 23.

“It’s just sudden, too, the littlest things can cause such a big traumatic event,” said Sadena Crumb, who mostly walks or uses the bus. “I’ve known a couple of people that have gotten hit [in the past], I’ve know people who have died in car crashes around here. It’s really sad.”

The special patrols, focused on traffic safety, began Thursday and continued Friday in the East Precinct, a part of town where many of the recent crashes have happened.

Friday night, 11 extra officers from the North and Central Precincts joined the roughly 30 officers from the East Precinct already on patrol.

Officers looked for anything dangerous on the roads: drivers who are under the influence, speeding or distracted as well as pedestrians and cyclists entering intersections when they don’t have the right of way.

“We’re not out there just stopping the cars and motorcycles, but the pedestrians, cyclists, anyone who is using the roads inappropriately or in a dangerous manner,” Sgt. Ty Engstrom said. “It doesn’t do you any good to hurry up and speed to get someplace if you’re not going to end up getting there.”

On a ride-a-long with one of the officers doing the enforcement Friday, a driver was pulled over for speeding and given a warning; an opportunity for the officer to start a conversation about the string of recent crashes in hopes of changing behavior.

“Right before I picked you guys up we got a guy doing 54 and it’s a 40 zone,” Officer Timothy Paolini, who normally works in the Central Precinct downtown told Fox 12.

While many factors have been at play recently, including DUII’s, police say it really is the simple things, like not using your cell phone, looking both ways, and only crossing the street when you have the right of way and know traffic is stopped, that make all the difference.

“[Pedestrians and cyclists] just kind of assume people see them, and a lot of the time they don’t,” Paolini added.

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