Jeff Humphrey, Media Manager, 509.625.6308
Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 2:18 p.m.
At first glance, you would think Chris Lewis was just another Cougar graduate enjoying Manito Park. However, on September 13, Lewis was working a special assignment.
“Today I am a plainclothes police officer enforcing the law of not yielding to pedestrians when they cross,” said Officer Lewis of the Spokane Police Department’s Traffic Unit.
Lewis’ disguise, which consisted of shorts, Cougar T-shirt and backpack was convincing.
As Lewis ambled across Grand Boulevard, other uniformed officers stood by in their patrol cars and on their motorcycles, waiting to pull over drivers who failed to yield to Lewis after he entered the crosswalk.
Lewis narrated his actions as he stepped out into traffic.
“So here we have a marked crosswalk. I’m approaching it. The vehicles are outside the cones that are set, far enough away so that the vehicles should be able to stop. All vehicles have yielded to me. I give them a big ole thank you because that is the behavior we would like to see and encourage,” explained Lewis.
However, a woman walking her dogs across Grand Avenue could not seem to catch a break.
She was clearly inside the crosswalk, but a southbound silver car did not stop for her.
Officer Lewis tried the same approach but this time, the driver who encroached on the occupied crosswalk received a $139 ticket.
“The pedestrian was in the center inside lane and she went right on by like, either she didn’t see him or didn’t know that they needed to stop,” Officer Brad Moon said as he pulled over the offending car.
“Hello, audio and video being recorded. Stopping you because you did not stop for the pedestrian there. Did you not see him,” Moon asked the driver. “Oh my gosh no,” she replied.
Both the WSP troopers and Spokane police officers working this special enforcement program worry distracted driving is leading to too many close calls on the roadway.
“Drivers, if they would put their phones down, leave the radio alone. Spend more of their time and energy focused on the roadway and the hazards. Looking out for pedestrians. If everybody is looking out for everybody, then the roadway is safer,” said Sgt. John Griffin, also a member of the Spokane Police Department’s Traffic Unit.
Spokane Police are also actively ticketing people for darting out into traffic. Pedestrian interference has become a common problem downtown.
However since no one wants to run into another person with their car, traffic officers say it is still up to the rest of us to drive defensively.
This pedestrian safety emphasis program was funded by a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.