Students feel effects of greater LAPD presence

As the Los Angeles Police Department adds more officers to the USC area, the number of citations for traffic and biking infractions among students has increased. This greater presence around campus comes from a request from the university to further ensure student safety, according to the LAPD.

Traffic jam · The heavily traversed intersection of Jefferson Boulevard and McClintock Avenue is one of several areas near campus that the Los Angeles Police Department has added extra officers to patrol. – Arya Harsono | Daily Trojan

LAPD officers have replaced the Dept. of Public Safety at some intersections, and are now positioned on the perimeter of campus to monitor students when crossing the streets in the area.

DPS officers now monitor the new bike lanes within the University Park campus. Though DPS focuses mostly on warning riders to follow the rules, LAPD uses citations to help change rider and pedestrian behavior.

LAPD officers are focused on specific violations to make the university safer for students.

“They’re really basic laws,” said Nichol Gardner, the Southwest Division senior lead officer of the LAPD. “I tell my officers to stress to students that they should be safe while riding their bikes and crossing the streets. That means riding with the flow of traffic, not being on your cell phone and not crossing when the red hand is flashing.”

Despite the additional efforts to reduce traffic violations, some students believe tighter enforcement will not change student behavior for the right reasons.

Jackie Drobny, a junior majoring in communication, received a citation that came with a $197 fine last month for not crossing the street at an intersection.

“I don’t think giving kids citations is the way to solve problems,” Drobny said. “Now I’ve stopped jaywalking out of fear that I will have to pay $200 again, but not because I was unsafe and I’m now being safer.”

Traffic accidents and violations on campus often result from these kinds of infractions, according to DPS. Many students acknowledged the problem with traffic and biking violations on campus, but said they believe that the LAPD can solve them with more effective methods.

“I think [safety] is a legitimate concern, but I think LAPD is too overzealous about it,” Terrence Liu, a junior majoring in biochemistry, said. “I understand why LAPD would enforce these laws, but students shouldn’t have to pay for violations.”

Other students said they do not believe that LAPD is targeting the correct problem.

“I’m from Philadelphia and no police officer would ever give you a ticket for jaywalking, because there’s just bigger issues,” Drobny said. “The streets should be more walker- and biker-friendly.”

Some students feel that they are at a disadvantage because they are not aware of California traffic infractions.

“I think it would be better if they informed us about the laws,” said Soumya Murag, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering. “Because now I’m just finding new paths around campus, away from the officers, to ride my bike.”

Despite student opposition to being penalized, DPS Capt. David Carlisle says that the department could start curbing biking problems on campus by using citations.

“DPS has not written any citations yet,” Carlisle said. “We focus on the roadways in campus where most of the foot traffic is. DPS may, in the future, start enforcing them soon for failure for following the bike lanes, though.”

Some also expressed concern that LAPD is specifically targeting university students because of their inability to fight the citations in court.

“They know that students are not going to fight [citations], along with the fact that they are not there every day enforcing it shows me that they’re making a lot of money off of it, which just seems wrong,” Drobny said.

LAPD, however, maintained that its primary job is to encourage more street safety among USC students.

“We just want students to act smart when they’re on the street,” Gardner said. “They just need to make sure that they’re aware of everyone’s safety when on bikes and walking.”

10 replies
  1. William Buttrey
    William Buttrey says:

    Was out at lunch and saw swarms of LAPD motorcycle officers looking to cite pedestrians and bike riders. The cyclists I saw being ticketed did not appear to me to be any sort of safety threat. I hope they have the time and opportunity to fight the citation using the municipal codes referenced in another comment here.

    For the university to turn a blind eye to students being harvested for city revenue in this manner is like watching bears go on a salmon feeding frenzy (I saw a similar situation crossing into Mexico for a Baja 1000 race). The university and students are trying to promote sustainable practices. They need to research and post the L.A.M.C. ordinances and request law enforcement specify how they’ll be enforcing these statutes and do so in a sensible and consistent manner.

  2. William Buttrey
    William Buttrey says:

    Know your rights. Great L.A.M.C. info in this DT article provided in the comments.

    (LAPD and DPS to ramp up bike safety – Daily Trojan 9/15/2009)

  3. William Buttrey
    William Buttrey says:

    For Trojan staff and students:

    A quick reminder on the metro line crossings as I got a warning but no citation (3-4 weeks ago).

    I was westbound by bike on the south side of Jefferson crossing Flower. I was on the sidewalk but rode through the crosswalk. The Sheriff’s motorcycle officer motioned me over and said he could have cited me for riding against traffic implying that if I rode through the crosswalk on the north side of the street, I would have been OK. I asked if then it wasn’t technically a violation to ride on the sidewalk as well. He said that was up to the LAPD and the court would make that determination if one contested the ticket and that he was just there to monitor the train crossing.

    For clarification I said that I could either follow the rules of the road for vehicle traffic, or operate as a pedestrian (meaning always walking the bike through the crosswalk), but not both. He confirmed that understanding.

    In summation, the previous “grace period” may be over.

    Always ride with traffic no matter what. Always walk your bike through the crosswalk though in the deputy’s explanation, they would understand hugging/drifting into the edge of the crosswalk if you were going with the flow of traffic while following vehicle code road rules. Riding the sidewalk is still up in the air in terms of the discretion of the officer.

    The funny thing was that while I was waiting behind the gate (with the gate open – I confirmed with the Metro observer that that was OK), there were four people all waiting *past* the gate in the “KEEP CLEAR” area which would have put them 12 inches away from a train if it went by. As was explained in the Metro information sessions, they could have been subject to “trespassing” citations. The officer chose not to alert them of this even though that seemed a greater safety issue.

    Hope this helps anyone on bike avoid any headaches. I’ve tried to bring this to the attention of fellow riders, but still saw a young female student ticketed last Friday for what I received a warning for. Enforcement seems pretty uneven and depends entirely on the officer. Local law enforcement needs to think about their role in the community, and true safety and sustainability, and not just revenue generation.

  4. Bobby Bruin
    Bobby Bruin says:

    LAPD should stay out of the USC area altogether and let all the students get run over / shot by the locals. Go Bruins!

  5. K
    K says:

    25+ years ago LAPD was Giving unnecessary tickets to students to generate revenue. I believe they should be out preventing real crime…much to choose from around SC I believe. Picking on kids riding on handle bars, going to class isn’t going to prevent robberies, murders, gangs, etc

  6. Jack
    Jack says:

    LAPD should be stopping locals and making sure they’re not stealing stuff, not harassing students for nonissues like bike citations. LAPD, where are your balls?

  7. North University Park
    North University Park says:

    Students may not appreciate it but your safety is a concern.

    My pet peeve with bike riders: Wrong way bike riders on marked bicycle lanes. (ditto for sidewalks)

    A motorist does not expect to see a cyclist coming in the wrong direction at high speed at an intersection. Narrow misses have been frequent and inevitably the cyclist glares as if the motorist is in the wrong.

    Wise up!

  8. Peter
    Peter says:

    2 students get shot outside their home and LAPD responds by sending more officers to USC to write $200 jaywalking and biking tickets…

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