After more than 450 tickets, Columbus Police not finished with jaywalking crackdown
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 01:09
The crackdown on jaywalking and bicycle violations along High Street is far from over. In fact it will continue “minimally for the next couple weeks,” according to a member of the Columbus Division of Police.
After issuing 241 tickets in the University District Sept. 7 and 8, Columbus Police followed up its increased enforcement the next weekend with 226 tickets in the same area.
Students should expect the same level of focus for at least the next couple weeks, said Columbus Police Precinct 4 Commander Chris Bowling.
“We’re just trying to get everyone’s attention,” Bowling said.
But some students don’t think issuing fines and tickets is the right way to address the problem.
“They’re giving out like $100 tickets and I think that’s a little bit excessive especially for college students who already pay a lot for their books and whatnot,” said Jessica Howard, a first-year in microbiology.
When Bowling was working at Ohio State’s football game Saturday, he was approached by a number of students asking why he was trying to make students’ lives “miserable.” But Bowling said he’s just trying to keep everyone safe.
“The objective is not to find a way to fine campus students,” Bowling said. “The objective is to hassle them through education.”
Jaywalking tickets cost $50 plus fees from the county clerk’s office and typically cost the violator about $90.
To give students another option, Bowling said Columbus Police and the prosecutor’s office have planned a class to educate people about proper safety. Violators would have the option to pay the full price of the ticket or attend the class and pay a reduced fee.
Bowling wasn’t sure how close the program is to becoming active, but said he thinks “the proposal was put together already so it’s a simple case of dialing it up.”
“It’s not that we’re trying to make anybody’s lives miserable,” Bowling said. “I just don’t want my officers to be the one to call someone and tell them that their son or daughter is dead for something as minor as somebody who chose not to cross the street in the right manner.”
Bowling said officers “sporadically” ticketed people for jaywalking and bicycle violations before the past two weekends, but his officers “were seeing a growing number of individuals stepping in front of traffic or bicycling improperly.”
The majority of the tickets issued were along High Street between 12th and 15th avenues by a campus walking crew, officers who ride bikes during shifts.
A campus walking crew consists of 10 to 12 officers and is “dedicated to campus issues,” Bowling said.
Though High Street is the focus, Bowling said police are also monitoring Summit Street, Indianola Avenue and Lane Avenue.
Bowling said Columbus Police does not have any more officers on the street than normal, they are just being stricter.
The concentration on safety comes after at least seven accidents occurred within the first four weeks of OSU’s Fall Semester.
On Sept. 7, OSU President E. Gordon Gee announced that he would be creating a task force to focus on the safety concerns and chose Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for Student Life, and Jay Kasey, senior vice president for Administration and Planning, to lead the group.
The group met for the first time Sept. 13 and broke down into three subcommittees focusing on solutions, pedestrian and recommendations for motor vehicles and cyclists.
It will meet two more times before submitting a report to Gee, expected on Oct. 1.
OSU Police has not been ticketing students and OSU Deputy Chief of Police Richard Morman said he’s seen an improvement in campus awareness.
“I’ve noticed a lot of people are being more aware of their transportation,” Morman said. “I think I see less people kind of darting out in front of cars.”
Some students agree.
“(The ticketing) makes me pay attention more,” said Cesar Santamaria, a fourth-year in history. “I think people are starting to pay attention more. So I think it’s helping.”
Others said they could easily avoid getting ticketed.
“I just don’t jaywalk when they’re around,” said Lamaya Davis, a second-year in social work. “It’s a hard concept I guess ‘cause people are used to walking. If there’s no traffic why not go?”