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Peds, drivers cited for Blue Line infractions

March 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Officers targeted traffic law violators along the busy Metro Blue Line in a major sting operation in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday. The crackdown included both drivers and pedestrians who failed to heed posted warnings near the rail lines.The Metro Blue Line cuts a quick path through downtown L.A. all the way to Long Beach. To do so, the light rail has to slice through some areas packed with pedestrians and drivers, people who many times push their luck and cross the tracks against the lights.

"I see a lot of that, I am one of them too," said one offender. "I don't wait for the green light."

And that is officers lined up bright and early Wednesday morning. About 40 Los Angeles Police Department officers and L.A. County Sherriff's deputies, many on motorcycles, targeted a roughly 1-mile stretch of Blue Line from Washington to Grand. Their eyes trained on the intersections around the trains looking for jaywalkers, distracted drivers and people crossing against the light.

"It's very serious," said Sheriff's Captain John Witt. "We see a lot of risky behavior in driving. We see some pedestrians that aren't paying attention."

"We are in the neighborhood of 200 to 250 citations issued for various vehicle code violations," said Sheriff's Deputy Michael Verlich.

That was after less than four hours working the area. The fines stretch from less than $200 for pedestrian citations to nearly $500 for various driving violations.

Officials said Wednesday's sting operation was not about raising money. It was about raising safety awareness. Trains can hit speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. Officials say that doesn't mix well with pedestrians and drivers who aren't paying attention.

"If you see that crossing arm come down, wait," said LAPD Lieutenant Manny Romeral. "It's better to wait and save your life then go up against a train. You will lose."

But while some violators learned about train safety Wednesday, others are pulling a different lesson from the enforcement operation.

"Well, I'll make sure no police are around," said one offender.