Oregon City police stepping up traffic enforcement - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon City police stepping up traffic enforcement

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The Oregon City Police Department says it's battling an increase in traffic that's left the city with more crashes than any other city in Clackamas County.

Members of the department's traffic team said they are now ramping up efforts to protect drivers.

 "It was surprising," OCPD Traffic Officer Michael Villanti said. "The bosses here are trying to analyze what the problems are and why we were having so many crashes.

After looking at the numbers, the OCPD determined officers were responding to three times as many crashes than any other city in Clackamas County.

In 2016, the Traffic Team answered 3,152 calls for service, made 2,527 traffic stops and responded to 199 crashes.

"We have three major highways that come in through the city, so we have lots of folks coming and going every day," Villanti said. "A majority of the crashes we're seeing are rear-end crashes, and that suggests to us that people are following too close or going too fast through particular areas."

In response, the OCPD's newly beefed-up traffic team is now on the road around the clock to protect drivers.

Before, patrol officers did traffic enforcement in between other calls and writing reports.  Now, the three-officer traffic team is specifically out looking for violators and hoping to have a bigger impact.

"It feels good to work as a team and to have a common focus," Villanti added.

The team is now setting up in trouble spots across the city looking to identify the problem and prevent others from getting hurt. Some of those locations include spots where Interstate 205 cuts through the city, as well as Highway 99 E, Highway 213 and the stretch of Highway 43 which carries traffic over the Arch Bridge.

"What we tried to do is focus on those intersections so we can get people to slow down,” Villanti said.  “We try to go out two, or three at a time, so we can make a bigger visual impact to folks that are coming through."

Traffic generators like the Providence Willamette Falls Hospital and even the Clackamas County Jail are considered problem spots, too, but lately, team members said they've focused on patrolling school zones.

"Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of beacons, or lights at schools, which makes it difficult for folks to know where they're at," Villanti explained.

Since December, the team has issued warnings and citations to drivers while teaching traffic safety classes and speaking to community groups.

The department reports that the stepped-up enforcement in 2017 has led to 1,271 citations for speeding, 558 for using cell phones while driving, 290 for failing to use seat belts and 271 for failing to obey traffic lights and stop signs.

The officers said they believe those numbers show the increased efforts are making a difference.

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