‘Ted’ keeps silent watch for speeders
Traffic on Monday generally kept to the 25 mph speed limit on the wide West First Street in Palisade, thanks to the watchful eye of an officer in a car at the road’s edge.
But the silent officer — dressed in a police uniform affixed with a badge, sunglasses and a cap — who sat behind the wheel of the marked patrol car was missing only one thing: a pulse.
The mannequin, dubbed Ted, which officers usually use for target practice, has lately been causing Palisade motorists to do a double-take.
For starters, Ted has helped quell complaints about speeders, many of whom blast off Interstate 70 and don’t adjust to the slower speed limits around the small town, Palisade Police Chief Carroll Quarles said.
“They’ll automatically slow down because that’s human nature,” he said of motorists seeing the strategically placed police car. “It has worked amazingly well.”
Quarles said speeding has long been residents’ most abundant complaint. But with a staff of only six officers, including himself, Quarles said he doesn’t have the manpower to dedicate one officer solely to traffic duty.
So for the past six weeks, Ted — an acronym for traffic enforcement deterrent — has been put to work.
To ensure that local motorists who have come to expect the ploy aren’t becoming complacent, officers move the vehicle to a different location every few days. Also, Quarles offers officers occasional two-hour overtime stints to switch places with Ted, a move that has netted six speeders, he said.
Dick Swenig, who lives a few doors down on West First Street from where the cop car was parked Monday, said he’s noticed that the gimmick has helped reduce speeders.
Another neighbor, Melvin Cabel, said he’s watched plenty of curious folks stop to peer in at the tranquil cop.
“As far as I’m concerned, it can stay,” he said, adding that he appreciates the benefits of having at least the appearance of extra security in his neighborhood.
Quarles said the project “isn’t costing taxpayers anything,” and the 1997 patrol vehicle that Ted occupies is on its last legs. He won’t say whether the vehicle is equipped with a camera or radar, just to keep residents from getting too
comfortable with the placid cop.
“I will say, you just never know where we’re going to be,” Quarles said. “If law enforcement can give people that mindset, it has a deterrent effect.”