HIGHTOWER: From Dodging Bullets to Dodging Cars

It's never easy being a cop, and it can be downright dangerous.But police work has now become even more dangerous as more and more officers are being assigned not to dodge bullets, but to dodge Range Rovers. And to dodge Volkswagens, Ford pickups, and even ... Dodges.The Wall Street Journal reports that the new beat for cops in Western cities like Glendale, California, and Beaverton, Oregon, is to pose as pedestrians in the crosswalks of busy streets, then to arrest drivers who fail to slow down and give the right of way to the pedestrian. The sting works like this: the cops dress like regular citizens, station themselves at various crosswalks, and spend their shifts as pedestrian decoys, stepping again and again into the roadway as the potential perpetrators hurtle down the road toward them. If a perp fails to give way, a patrol car down the road makes the arrest.Talk about having a beat on the Mean Streets, imagine spending your day challenging drivers who just might be stoked with too much coffee and an unhealthy level of road rage! Officer Robert Davis of Beaverton told the Journal that he's had undercover assignments many times and even been shot at, but being a pedestrian decoy is scarier than anything. Davis said, "It's 5,000 pounds of metal hunkering down a roadway. You can't read what these people are doing. You can't see their eyes."A lot of citizens are unhappy that their tax dollars are being spent on stings to entrap them, but the police retort that this is a bigger safety problem than you might realize. In Glendale, for example, eight pedestrians got popped in 1996 while they were in crosswalks, but after the police decoy operation began, only one citizen has been sent to pedestrian heaven.This is Jim Hightower saying ... This decoy sting might work on the West Coast, but no cop would want to be stepping in front of our drivers. Out here, pedestrians are called "targets."

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