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Police cite 26 in traffic sting

Officers, cadets bust Lodi drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians

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Posted: Friday, September 23, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 8:25 am, Fri Sep 23, 2011.

Sitting on a sizzling leather seat under a scorching September sun, Sgt. Chris Jacobson of the Lodi Police Department watched closely as one of his cadets crossed the street at the intersection of West Lodi Avenue and Rose Street on Thursday afternoon.

The cadet, clad in street clothes, was being used as bait in a traffic sting. Drivers who yielded to him were allowed to continue on their respective journeys. Those who didn’t were pulled over and ticketed. The department’s traffic unit set up the sting at three separate intersections during the operation.

“We’re targeting intersections that have had a high number of vehicle-versus-pedestrian accidents,” Jacobson said. “But we aren’t just having these guys dart out into traffic; they have parameters they have to follow.”

Twenty-six citations were written and two vehicles were towed during the four-hour operation. Officers set up at the intersection of Walnut Street and Ham Lane, Lodi Avenue and Rose Street, and Lodi and Avena avenues.

Two cadets participated in the sting designed to make citizens more aware of the importance of yielding to pedestrians. Vehicles striking pedestrians is a common occurrence in Lodi, highlighting the need for the crackdown, Jacobson said.

“The intersections we targeted have had a lot of incidents of cyclists or pedestrians hit by cars or complaints from residents,” Jacobson said. “We decided it was time to work some pedestrian safety enforcement, and we will do another in the coming weeks.”

He did not say where the next sting would take place or when it would occur.

The two cadets who participated in the exercise, John Piombo and Chris Gilley, had a strict outline for how they were to operate. They only entered the intersection when they had 400 feet of space from vehicles on either side of them.

They also had to first yield to vehicles, as California traffic laws indicate.

Once in the intersection, they would walk at a casual pace and test the approaching cars. If the cars stopped for them, they would not be ticketed.

“We are giving the vehicles a one-lane grace,” Jacobson said. “If they are within one lane of the pedestrian, they are getting a ticket.”

Cars that passed other vehicles that were yielding to pedestrians were also ticketed.

While the sting was closely monitored, there was still a risk of injury for the cadets.

“We just keep an eye out in all directions when we cross,” Piombo said. “If they are going too quickly, we’ll stop and let them go.”

The passing cars would then receive tickets.

When Piombo crossed the intersection at Rose Street and West Lodi Avenue, a truck towing a trailer of landscaping equipment breezed past him. Officers discovered the man driving was operating the vehicle with a suspended license during the traffic stop.

“He was driving because his wife — who has a valid license — was feeling ill,” said Officer Eric Versteeg.

“We’re towing the truck but letting them unhitch the trailer, because they need to make a living,” he said.

Occupants of the truck declined to comment on the sting to the News-Sentinel.

While most of the drivers receiving tickets were pleasant, others were more irritated in their response, Jacobson said.

“There were some who were mad and said they didn’t even see a pedestrian,” he said.

The exercise was not conducted with funding from the federal grant that enables the department to conduct regular DUI/driver’s license checkpoints.

And while some in the public may perceive Thursday’s operation as a scheme to enhance revenue for the department, Jacobson said that’s not the case.

“The percentage we make off tickets is minute,” he said. “We get about 7 or 8 percent of the bail on a ticket. And the bail portion is usually about $90. The rest goes to fees for the courts and county. This is about safety.”

Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at jordang@lodinews.com and chief photographer Dan Evans at dane@lodinews.com.

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  • roy bitz posted at 9:42 pm on Fri, Sep 23, 2011.

    roy bitz Posts: 489

    I believe folks talking on the phone and/or texting while driving is a much greater threat to safety than pedestrians crossing Lodi Avenue or Ham Lane.
    I think a sting focused on nailing drivers on the phone would do more for safety than this cross walk trap.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 5:57 pm on Fri, Sep 23, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    I have to agree with Kevin... I was walking downtown yesterday and some yahoo driving his truck too fast and almost hit me and two other people when driving carelessly as if no one was in view of the road... he did not even look back... wish he had gotten a ticket.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 5:24 pm on Fri, Sep 23, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1881

    Apparently Brett would prefer to have more kids struck by vehicles in the Lodi area. Meth is a problem in lodi, but it isn't the ONLY problem.

  • Jerry Bransom posted at 8:24 am on Fri, Sep 23, 2011.

    Jerry Bransom Posts: 363

    Another poorly written article. How about a little research on the law? Too much reading involved in that?.

  • Brett Thompson posted at 7:18 am on Fri, Sep 23, 2011.

    Brett Thompson Posts: 54

    Seriously? This was a priority of LPD? This is all about revenue. If they really wanted to make it safer for our citizens, they'd do something about the HUGE meth problem and escalating gang violence. Get your priorities straight!!!



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