Thursday, November 09, 2000

Those cops parked on Ky. interstates are real dummies

Two agencies use fake officers to slow drivers

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        You're headed west on Interstate 275 near the Ky. 16 exit going 80 mph or so. Or you're northbound leadfoot on Interstate 75 just past Ky. 18.

        You see the police car with what from a distance looks like an officer with radar gun.

        After you slam on the brakes to slow your vehicle to 65 mph on I-275 or 55 mph on I-75, you realize there's no officer in the Florence car on the side of the highway.

[photo] Taylor Mill Police Chief Steve Knauf stands next to a dummy-occupied cruiser on the I-275 median.
(Enquirer photo)
| ZOOM |
        Or that it's just a dummy decorated with a Taylor Mill Police uniform in the driver's seat in the median on I-275.

        And whether you snicker or swear, two police departments — Taylor Mill and Florence — have just accomplished their goal. They are doing what they can to get your right foot off the gas pedal.

        “We've had some say it's a waste and doesn't do any good,” Florence Police Lt. Tim Chesser said. “The only reason we put it there is to slow people down.”

        Taylor Mill, which patrols a 2-mile portion of I-275 from the Licking River to between Ky 16 and Ky. 17, parks a car in the median and places a dummy borrowed from the fire department in it.

        Taylor Mill's program has been in effect about three weeks. Mayor Mark Kreimborg suggested the idea after seeing Florence's cruiser.

        “We have had some serious accidents along that road,” Mr. Kreimborg said.

        Police departments have actually been putting dummies in cruisers for years. Taylor Mill occasionally switches the dummy for an officer, and Chief Knauf told Mr. Kreimborg it's taking longer for his officers to nab speeders.

        “We're trying to keep 'em guessing and keep 'em safe,” Chief Knauf said.

        Chief Knauf is not sure how many accidents there have been on I-275 this year, but he is working with other departments to compile a list.

        On Oct. 11 Mr. Kreimborg wrote a letter to Charles Meyers, chief district engineer at the state Transportation Cabinet office in Fort Mitchell. He asked the office to see whether there was a relationship between the number of accidents on I-275 and the raising of the speed limit from 55 mph to 65 mph.

        “I-275 has a design speed of 65 mph and thus should be safe to travel at this speed,” Mr. Meyers wrote in and Oct. 24 letter. “We would, however, be willing to review these accidents from any trait that may be common to them.”

        Florence, which is responsible for about three miles of I-75, puts an unoccupied car on northbound I-75 between Ky. 18 and Turfway Road.

        Lt. Chesser said his car is always unmanned and he said officers will never occupy it.

        “It's not an empty car,” Lt. Chesser said. “It has radar running, and it activates detectors.”

        The Erlanger Police Department had alternated officers with unmanned cars on I-75 until three weeks ago. Ironically, Police Chief Greg Sandel said safety and I-75 road construction were the reasons he stopped the program.

        The acceleration lanes are small,” Chief Sandel said. “People were having trouble getting on and off the Interstate. It's probably more hazardous if you stop them.”

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