29 cited in crosswalk sting

Officer Larry Ballesteros wasn’t wearing his typical blue uniform as he strolled along an unmarked crosswalk in a busy Glendale intersection on Thursday when suddenly the driver of a white van stopped, made hand gestures and yelled at him.

This incident was just one of several close calls Ballesteros encountered while working undercover during a pedestrian sting operation that netted 29 citations to drivers for allegedly failing to yield to pedestrians.

The operation was held at Garfield and Central avenues — an unmarked crosswalk that is no stranger to frequent foot traffic and collisions.

“It’s kind of scary because you are not sure what the drivers are going to do,” Ballesteros said.

The sting was the Glendale Police Department’s latest effort to curb a spate of pedestrian-involved collisions following four incidents that seriously injured three women and resulted in the death of a fourth.

PHOTOS: Glendale Police crosswalk sting

While the driver who yelled at Ballesteros wasn’t cited, the drivers who allegedly failed to yield to him were each issued $280 citations.

One of the motorists cited was driving a Glendale Water & Power truck. Another motorist cited was allegedly unlicensed.

One of the drivers that was stopped was reportedly driving under the influence of marijuana, police said. Officers recovered marijuana and a pipe inside his car.

He reportedly admitted to smoking and told police he never saw Ballesteros crossing but understood why they were conducting the sting, according to Officer Bryan Duncan.

Some motorists who were stopped told officers that Ballesteros was wrong and shouldn’t have been crossing the busy street, Officer Marc Tarzia said. But that’s when officers had to explain that while the walkway was unmarked, it was still considered a crosswalk and pedestrians have the right of way.

Glendale residents Lourdes Rodriguez and Rosa Chavarin said they are afraid to walk across any city street because motorists drive too fast and just don’t want to stop for pedestrians.

“I get nervous,” Rodriguez said.

Her son, she said, often finds it difficult to cross Pacific Avenue near his school, Columbus Elementary, because motorists will not stop for him. At times, Rodriguez said, she has waved her arms to draw the attention of drivers to get them to stop for her son.

“Lots of drivers don’t have respect for pedestrians,” Rodriguez said.

Chavarin, who works at a beauty salon near Central and Garfield, said she has had several close calls with drivers who weren’t afraid to express their anger toward her.

“I have to wait to cross until there is not a single car on the road,” she said.


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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