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Fort Lee Police Set Up Decoy Officers At Pedestrian Crosswalks

FORT LEE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Police in Fort Lee, N.J., have set up officers as decoys, at sites where motorists have been failing chronically to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

As CBS 2's Christine Sloan reported, the officer dressed in plainclothes has been posted on Hudson Terrace. But no one seems to want to stop for him, as he almost got hit by a sport-utility vehicle and watched other drivers refuse to stop even as he put his hands up.

It happened over and over again, despite the fact that he was at a pedestrian crosswalk with flashing yellow lights.

The officer, Fort Lee police Sgt. Tommy Provenzano, said the situation would be even more dangerous if he were actually a pedestrian walking down the street minding his own business.

"I'm preparing myself to get out of the way. Most people are not; they step forward thinking the cars will stop," Provenzano said. "At least I have an escape route."

Provenzano is posing as a pedestrian for "Operation Be Seen, Be Safe" in Fort Lee. The purpose is to catch drivers on Hudson Terrace who are flagrantly breaking the law – they are supposed to stop when someone steps into the crosswalk.

Every driver that failed to do so ended up with a ticket. It took police just a matter of minutes to pull more than a dozen motorists cars over.

But the drivers did not want to talk about their violations.

"I am not interested," one violator said.

"I don't want to talk. Sorry," another said.

Most drivers either rolled up their windows when confronted by CBS 2, while other just seemed angry or oblivious.

"I don't know what we did wrong," said Joe Travers of Fort Lee.

Another motorist was cynical about the operation.

"I never saw anybody," the driver said. "This is a set up; revenue producing morning."

A third motorist, Rema Townsend, blamed the city's failure to put a different kind of signal at the intersection for her violation.

"It's a major crosswalk; a major intersection," she said. "Maybe they should put a light up. How about that?"

But police emphasized that there is already a signal.

"We picked an intersection where we have a blinking light, crosswalk painted; put out cones to give them the heads up something's happening here," said Fort Lee police Deputy Chief Timothy Ford.

Drivers did not seem to care much about Sloan as she stood in the street with her microphone either.

"It's difficult to share the road with people who are inconsiderate," said Fort Lee resident Ricardo Waldron.

But the pedestrians are the ones who are in danger, police said.

"Last year we had four struck pedestrians who were killed," said Fort Lee police Chief Keith Bendul.

Last year, 68 pedestrians were struck in Fort Lee. This year, 12 people have been hit, with one fatality.

Thus, decoy officers will be set up on roads everywhere, vigorously enforcing the law.

Fort Lee police are also educating the public at seminars and schools, and cracking down on jaywalkers. The effort is funded with state grants and money seized by drug busts.

Do you think the decoy operation will get more Fort Lee drivers to stop for pedestrians? Leave your comments below...


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