WLPD tightening up on leash laws
It's becoming something of an annual tradition — but this time it involves bikes.
When the clouds finally break and the weather warms, West Linn Police officers often find themselves issuing reminders to residents about the city's off-leash dog laws. West Linn has only two sanctioned off-leash dog areas — one located near the main parking lot at Mary S. Young Park and the other on a portion of the beach at the same park — and dogs are considered to be "running at large" if they are off-leash in any area outside of the owner's property.
In a Facebook post May 23, WLPD announced it would ramp up patrols at local parks with the help of mountain bikes.
"We've got mountain bikes and officers who are certified on the bikes, so we want to have them out more," WLPD spokesperson Jeff Halverson said. "Obviously, we can't take cars, and walking on the trails won't do as much."
Halverson said this year's push was inspired in part by the experiences of one officer who lives locally.
"He runs in (Mary S. Young)," Halverson said. "I wouldn't say it's his pet project, (but) he comes across that problem a lot. … It's something we kind of remind people about every year."
The city ordinance regarding off-leash dogs remains unchanged: Those who violate the law may be cited to appear in court and face a fine of up to $500.
City Council President Brenda Perry said she frequents Mary S. Young Park and has had an off-leash dog run at her in the past, but added that she hasn't seen an uptick in complaints at the council level.
"If we're going to make it a rule, people have to stand by it," Perry said. "I see less and less dogs being allowed loose in there where they're not supposed to be."
The bikes are a new tool for enforcing this particular law, and Halverson said the department hopes to use them more once staffing levels increase.
"I've only been here for three years and we've used them sparingly," he said. "Part of the issue is staffing. We would love to have more guys on bikes and foot patrol, and we're trying to get our numbers back up so we can be out there more — especially on bikes."
Officers must receive special training and certification for bike patrols, which further complicates matters.
"We can't just put anyone on a bike," Halverson said.