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"Dummy Cop" Promises To Improve Public Safety

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LITTLE ELM (CBS11) - You can call him a dummy if you want, but Little Elm Police say their new decoy has become an effective public safety tool.

US-380 in Little Elm has been a problem area, so police parked an empty decommissioned SUV to slow people down. It worked at first, but people started to catch on, so they added a driver. Then they added a moustache, and police say the mannequin and the tactic keep making improvements.

With 90 collisions along US-380 last year and crashes up more than 25% already this year, Little Elm Police knew they had to do something. But they only have so many officers, and they can't be everywhere at once. That's where the decommissioned SUV with a CPR mannequin in the driver's seat comes in.

"No, I did not notice it was a mannequin," Gwenisha Price said of the first time she passed the speed trap.

Price drives 380 often enough that after awhile she did begin to get suspicious.

"The second time when they moved it in a different spot," Price said.

Price and other drivers say they like the idea, but some worry the impact won't last.

"Before long everyone's going to realize that the mannequin is in the vehicle, and it's not going to make a difference," said a driver along 380 who asked to be identified only as, "Bill."

In fact, word has gotten around on social media. The mannequin has practically become a celebrity, enough that people want to stop and take photos with it.

"We were driving by, and it like looked the same, and then when we got by I recognized the open mouth and the moustache, so I realized that's the Twitter post," said Zac Childress after taking photos next to the SUV with friends.

But police warn drivers where there are decoys, there may be real cops nearby.

"We want the motorist to always be mindful of, is it a decoy; is it a real officer? You don't know," Little Elm Asst. Police Chief Greg Wilkerson said.

"Yeah, then that's when they're going to get caught up again, and one day it's not going to be a mannequin. It's going to be a real one in the car," Price said.

Police tell us this program is only a week old, so it's too early to tell how effective it's been. If collisions start going down along 380, officers may consider adding more decoys in other problem areas, but if you see police... and even if you don't see police, drive safely out there.

Little Elm Police have used the decoy vehicle in several different spots along 380. They ask drivers not to pull over and take photos if you could be blocking traffic to do so.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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