GPD special detail nabs jaywalkers, crosswalk violators

Gainesville Police Department Officer L. Orengo explains the bicycle law to a cyclist near the University of Florida campus Wednesday.

Courtesy of Ben Tobias/GPD
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 4:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 4:11 p.m.

Police officers were along West University Avenue on Wednesday morning ticketing people for violating pedestrian laws. But the officers actually were hoping not to issue any citations at all.

That was not to be.

By the end of a special detail from 9 a.m. to noon near Buckman Drive, Gainesville Police spokesman Officer Ben Tobias said they wrote 28 pedestrian citations, six vehicle citations and one bicycle citation — to a Jimmy John's sandwich delivery rider.

Pedestrian tickets are $52.50, and vehicle citations are $154 with three points added to the driver's license.

Tobias said a lot of people call the agency to complain about getting a ticket, but he said the officers would be happy not to write any at all.

"It would be a successful day if we did not have to observe any violations or write any citations," he said. "The ultimate goal is to reduce pedestrian crashes."

He said officers typically only issue about a handful of citations in any given week because they don't have the time to pay attention to pedestrian laws. That's why GPD periodically sets up the special details aimed at jaywalkers and crosswalk violators.

A Florida Department of Transportation grants allows GPD to run this detail at least twice a month, but lately officers have been doing one every couple of weeks.

He said there are a surprising amount of people who will jaywalk even though they see a police officer standing nearby. One of the department's goals is to deter people from violating pedestrian laws.

"If they were going to break a pedestrian law and they saw the officer and chose not to, that's one person who we've changed their behavior," he said.

Anish Patel, a 20-year-old senior economic major at UF, said he usually cuts across West University Avenue to get to class or go to the library, but he decided to walk the extra steps to the crosswalk on Wednesday because of the police presence.

Patel said the tickets are a problem for college students, who can barely pay off a speeding ticket let alone a ticket for jaywalking.

On the other hand, he said he understands that this is for the safety of the walkers.

"It should be necessary because it could save lives, and it's much safer," he said.

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