Berkeley police officers ticketed 27 drivers this week during an operation focused on pedestrian safety on one of the city’s busiest streets.

Officers focused on two intersections on Martin Luther King Jr. Way on Tuesday: at Blake Street and also outside the police department, at Addison Street, where a driver recently hit two pedestrians in the crosswalk, causing major injuries.

Police issued 12 tickets to drivers at Addison Street and 15 at Blake. Most of the tickets were for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

Officers also issued citations for unsafe speed at a crosswalk, failure to stop at a crosswalk when other vehicles have stopped, seatbelt and cellphone violations and being an unlicensed driver, police said in a statement this week.

Officers spent about two hours at each location Tuesday and contacted 36 drivers, some of whom were able to escape with warnings.

Traffic Lt. Jen Tate said officers at Addison Street initially used a newly-installed pedestrian beacon as they crossed the road, but found that all drivers stopped in response to the signal.

When officers did not use the beacon, it was a different story, she said: “That’s when we started getting violators.”

“We ourselves frequent the area,” Tate added. “We see what happens there all the time. People can’t even pay attention to the right turn only sign, let alone pedestrians.”

Tate said she hopes BPD’s small traffic unit will be able to have more visibility in the community in the coming months due to a variety of safety-focused enforcement operations she has planned.

“Safety is a shared responsibility, with drivers holding the greatest responsibility to keep other road users safe,” she said. “We hope this operation serves as a reminder to everyone to practice due care and to look out for one another.”

Funding for Tuesday’s operation came from a grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, BPD said.

Featured photo: A Berkeley police cruiser, February 2022. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...