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Pedestrian safety operation set for late August on First Street


Police department will have officers deployed as decoys in annual sting

The Newberg-Dundee Po­lice Department will, once again, attempt to educate motorists on how to safely and legally traverse downtown when pedestrians are afoot. The ed­u­cation will come via a pedestrian safety operation set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 27 on First Street.

The de­part­ment has held the operation for a number of years in the heart of downtown, often in conjunction with First Fri­day Art Walk.

“What prompted it is me,” said NDPD Capt. Chris Bolek, explaining that he was concerned about the safety of pedestrians and motorists. “The whole enforcement is about awareness and learning and the fact that for as long as I have been here, we have always had problems with pedestrians crossing on First Street. It’s an age old problem.”

Bolek, a veteran of five years in the department’s patrol division and 28 years as an NDPD officer, said the problem manifests itself in two ways: Drivers fail to see pedestrians and don’t heed the lead of other drivers. In the last scenario, somebody tries to cross First Street at a crosswalk and one car stops, but the cars in the other two lanes either don’t stop or swerve around a stopped car and endanger the pedestrian.

The operation will consist of five officers, one acting as a decoy. The decoy officer, dressed in plain clothes, will simulate a pedestrian crossing in a crosswalk. The other officers will be deployed in key areas, one as a “scribe” who will document the license plate of the offending driver, while another will issue citations and another who will videotape the infraction.

Bolek said he suspects, given the results of past year’s operations, citations will be issued, but it’s more important to raise awareness through warnings

“Frankly, we are very fortune,” he said. “We have a lot more near misses than crashes.”

Police are also paying attention to the actions of pedestrians, many who are also disobeying the law

“There are cases when we do see pedestrians not yielding to motorists,” he said. “So it’s not all one-sided; we have to be responsible to each other and for our own safety.”

While he couldn’t comment on the number of pedes­trian/vehicle incidents in the roughly 12 months since the last operation, Bolek said it only requires a trip to First Street to witness the problem. “I have not lately looked up any numbers, so I can’t give any statistics, but when you watch in the morning, tracking the near misses (is easy) and crashes still do occur.”

In the past, the operation has been partially funded by grants from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, a Portland advocacy group. This year, however, the Newberg operation will be paid for through dollars allotted from the city’s general fund.