Zero tolerance on tresspassing...

John Barnhill Aug 31, 2006

  1. John Barnhill

    John Barnhill TrainBoard Member

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    Rogue Of The Week: Union Pacific Railroad Police
    PORTLAND, OR -- Company cops with badges slapping a hefty ticket on a working man? Rogue, thy name is the Union Pacific Railroad Police.
    According to records in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Union Pacific railroad officer P.T. Bender stopped 54-year-old Harry Wise from carrying his bicycle across the Brooklyn rail yard in Southeast Portland on June 19. Ignoring Wise's protest that the signs around the yard were illegible, Bender handed the warehouse laborer a citation for trespassing, according to the police report.
    When Wise showed up at court on Aug. 4-without a lawyer-he found himself on the docket for first-degree criminal trespass, a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $6,250.
    If Wise had picked any other property for his shortcut that day, the charge would have been second-degree trespass, the equivalent of a speeding ticket, says Barry Engle, a Portland criminal defense lawyer who is not involved in the case.
    But railroads enjoy special legal privileges dating back to the 19th century. For one, railroad companies are authorized to hire their own police officers. And trespassing on any yard, bridge, line or tunnel belonging to the railroads is automatically considered first-degree criminal trespass, Engle says.
    Neither law enforcement nor transportation agencies at the state level have jurisdiction over UP cops, and the company is notoriously tight-lipped about internal matters. Joe Arbona, spokesman for Union Pacific, says the company has "zero tolerance for trespassing," but would not disclose how often its officers cite trespassers. Court records show 142 people were cited for criminal trespass by Union Pacific cops last year, a marked increase from the 38 tickets handed out in 2000. (Wise, for his part, declined to talk to WW.) Trespassing is a crime, but it seems unjust (not to mention Roguish) for a company to enforce a rule aimed at saboteurs and terrorists on a man who cut across the tracks because he was running late for work. The case is pending trial. - Jacques Van Lunen, The Willamette Week
     
  2. Alan

    Alan Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I agree with the no trespassing rules, but this does seem rather heavy handed to me!
     
  3. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    Ridiculous. 6200 bucks? It's not like he tagged a boxcar, and stole cargo from a container! Yikes!
     
  4. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    It appears that UP day-to-day operations are being managed by lawyers, and that moving trains has become an annoying as-needed chore, like taking out the garbage.
     
  5. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    Whatever happened to railroaders running trains, and the legal beagles dealing with other stuff??
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    If this is a first time offense, he should have merely been warned off the property. If he's a repeat offender, a fine might be in order. But for short-cutting across the land, that potential penalty is way out of line.

    :thumbs_down:

    Boxcab E50
     
  7. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    The takeover of UP by lawyers has been evolving for a long time. My first indication was the logo licensing issue with model builders and manufacturers, but I'm sure there issues before then if we had known where to look.
     
  8. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

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    I would bet there is more to this story; hence the result...

    :eek:o2pz: :eek:o2pz: :eek:o2pz: :eek:o2pz: ​
     
  9. milwaukeerailroader

    milwaukeerailroader TrainBoard Member

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    Also, cutting across the yard is a bit different than standing next to a mainline to photograph a train! I bet the fine would be the same!:thumbs_down:
     
  10. Alaska GP49

    Alaska GP49 TrainBoard Member

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    I was talking with my dad this week. He is supposed to report all railfans that he sees while on duty. He doesn't, because he and his son are railfans and he doesn't see the harm if they are acting in a safe manner. I have considered writing a letter to the UP, though I am not sure it would do much good. My question is why are they sticking it so hard to the common man that enjoys a harmless hobby. First it was to the model railroader when they added a licensing fee for all model produced with their logos. There are people out there who love the UP and its heritage. The UP charges them extra. Now they are chasing off every railfan. I understand, but have yet to see for myself, that they bought a boxcar load of no tresspassing signs and have them posted at every possible spot imaginable along the Moffat route to keep railfans out. Why is their competitor on the other hand asking railfans to sign up to help watch their rails?

    Then these heritage engines. Why did they paint them if a railfan can't go out and photograph them? And why do they open up entries every year to the public for their calender. Pretty soon the calender will have nothing but shots taken from a highway or railroad crossing missing some of the most beautiful country their railroad runs through. I guess that will be the case unless you can become a company photographer.

    That is my bit of venting. I still like UP. I grew up with them. The steam crew have been good friends. Just sad to see the direction the railraod is taking. Thanks for "listening" to my woes!
     
  11. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    It's this that gives me big apprehension about hitting the Moffat if/when I ever make a trip back south.... Yikes...
     
  12. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    Yeah Hemi, ya wonder if they would ever let us back in the steam shop in Cheyenne again.........sad.
     
  13. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    Sad indeed...
    That signed release would likely be a different story, but I dunno. The rest of the system would be bad news, though.
     
  14. Scott Stutzman

    Scott Stutzman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I think it is because there has been a problem around this area. At least 5 deaths in 2 years,Because people were on the tracks. UP might be getting tired of all the legal hassles from someone elses supidity!
     
  15. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    You can lead a person to knowledge, but you cannot make him think...

    Maybe Uncle Pete should post legal notices (on their no trespassing signs) that absolve them of any liability from trespassers and injuries...

    Anyone get hassled over this new policy? Please tell your stories!
     
  16. Adam Woods

    Adam Woods TrainBoard Member

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    Frankly they should throw the book at him. It is not like he was steping over a track or two, he was cut across a yard. This is possibly the most dangrous thing I do on a day to day basis, and I am trained to do it.
    And forget the company's liability I don't want to be the switchman who kicks a car that nails some idiot who shouldn't be there. Or the train crew who pulls not knowing someone is crossing thought there train, this happened in Edgemont, SD on the BNSF this summer. The end result was not something you would want your kids to see.
    Adam
     
  17. Scott Stutzman

    Scott Stutzman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    EXACTLY!!!
    All of the yards in Portland,Oregon are very active! He's lucky that he only facing a heavy fine!
     
  18. Fluid Dynamics

    Fluid Dynamics TrainBoard Supporter

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    On the tehachapi loop and cuesta pass in southern california last year, the UP seemed to be friendly to the local rail fans, at least according to the local rail fans and Amtrak office. :)

    I suspect that a history of accidents in certain areas causes UP's litigious predisposition toward bystanders putting themselves in danger.
     
  19. SP Cabforward

    SP Cabforward TrainBoard Member

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    In the Upper Sacramento River Canyon, north of Dunsmuir, the UP sings a different tune about trespassers. The bridge over the river at Cantara Loop has a sign that says that it is an active railroad and to cross the bridge at your own risk instead of the ussual No Tresspassing sign. I think this is because fisherman use the railroad as way up and down that part of the canyon. Also the trail to Mossbrea Falls about 3 miles south of the Loop is a one mile hike along the railroad tracks. I think that due to the remoteness of the area and the amount of fishers and hikers easiest way in and out is along the railroad. It is also a good place to photograph trains.
     
  20. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Take a look at Don Phillips' column in the latest (November) issue of Trains. He is trying to get UP management to consider reason, logic, and sanity with their current restrictive public policies. You have to admire Phillips' control and diplomacy, but I wonder how much longer that will last, he isn't very subtle!
     

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