Gotcha! Police Sting Nabs 59 Dangerous Drivers

A driver fails to yield to a pedestrian on Wednesday morning at Orange Grove Avenue and Monterey Road (above).

It was a sting. And 59 drivers got stung.

South Pas Police, in coordination with three other area departments, staged what was officially called a “Pedestrian Safety Operation’’ on Wednesday morning at two locations in the city— an operation targeting drivers who failed to yield to people crossing the street.

Two plainclothes officers — Darren Wong and Ryan Hang — walked back and forth at two of the city’s busier intersections, while a small fleet of motorcycle cops from South Pas, Alhambra, San Gabriel and Cal State L.A. hung nearby, ready to rev up their engines and fire up their lights to pull over and ticket reckless drivers who put pedestrians in peril.

“The police department receives numerous calls every month regarding drivers failing to yield to pedestrians who are lawfully in crosswalks,’’ the SP department said in a release after the operation was concluded.

Several years ago, due to a rash of pedestrian mishaps and a death on Huntington Drive, the police department instituted a series of stings to reduce the amount of danger on the streets.

This latest sting took place at Monterey and Orange Grove for about 1 ½ hours, then moved to Oak and Fairfield for another hour, said South Pas motorcycle officer Jeff Holland, who coordinated the operation.

Little did drivers know, the pedestrian was a plainclothes South Pas police officer — and that motorcycle cops were lurking around the corner, ready to pull over the driver and issue a ticket (left). Photos by Henk Friezer

The motorcycle officers hid on Monterey and on Garfield and pounced when drivers failed to yield on Orange Grove and Oak.

Holland said police regularly received complaints regarding drivers failing to yield to pedestrians at those intersections, many of the complaints from people using the YMCA near Oak and Fairfield who report numerous drivers failing to yield at the crosswalk.

Wednesday, officers saw those violations first-hand, as Wong and Hang crossed the street time and again.

“There were some pretty close calls on a couple of them,” Holland said.

The drivers cited received tickets for either failure to yield to a pedestrian (a $238 base fine) or, in a few cases, illegally passing a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian (an even more dangerous violation with fines starting around $400), Holland said.

Two drivers got off with warnings, not tickets, bringing the total number of people stopped in the sting to 61, Holland said.

“The goal of this operation is to reduce the number of pedestrians struck by vehicles while crossing in crosswalks,’’ the South Pas police statement.

“Drivers should wait for pedestrians to cross the street and slow down or prepare to stop when crossing an intersection where there is foot traffic. Drivers should also stop at the crosswalk line to allow other drivers to see and yield to pedestrians. Pedestrians and drivers can both ensure everyone gets to where we need they need to go (safely) by avoiding distractions.’’

Police also had a warning for people crossing the street.

“Pedestrians should only cross the street using crosswalks or at intersections, preferably with a stop sign or signal,’’ they said. “Also, pedestrians should not be using their cellphones while walking … and try to avoid darting between parked cars.

“Make eye contact with drivers,’’ the warning added, “wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.’’