New Jersey police thought it would be a good idea to set up a crosswalk sting operation on Halloween using an undercover cop dressed in a Donald Duck costume.
The duck would start walking across the street to see if drivers would yield to him or not. Those who didn’t yield were pulled over and ticketed. Each citation cost $230, and there were apparently about 130 drivers who got cited. As with everything they do, they’re saying the operation was all about safety.
It’s not every day you see a duck walking the crosswalk, but that’s what several drivers in Fort Lee saw last Friday.
It was all part of a decoy program to catch drivers who aren’t yielding to pedestrians. But some are saying it’s not fair and that they were tricked.
River Edge resident Karen Haigh is one of those drivers, and she plans to fight the $230 ticket she got on Halloween day.
“This duck kept going to the curb, off the curb,” she said. “I thought it was a crazy guy on Halloween.”
She is accused, along with dozens of others, of not stopping to let the 6-foot-4 Donald Duck cross the street.
“They told me that I was getting a ticket for not stopping for a duck,” she said. “But it scared me. I’m a woman. This huge duck scared me.”
Eyewitness News was there, invited by Fort Lee police to video their Pedestrians in the Crosswalk safety program, which they conduct randomly through the year.
It’s for a good reason, says the police chief.
“Two years ago, we had 62 people struck,” Chief Keith Bendul said. “This year, we had 40, I’m glad to say. But zero is my ultimate goal.”
At one point, a driver laid on the horn for the duck to move, while another time, cars drove by even though he was in the street.
“When you see a pedestrian, child, adult or duck, stop,” Bendul said. “Let them cross and proceed with your day.”
But Haigh says it was hard to tell what he was trying to do or who he was, and she feels she was treated harshly.
“It scared me,” she said. “It was a huge duck. If it was a person dressed normally, I think all those people would have stopped.”
So, why did the duck cross the street? To generate revenue.
This is really the result of having regulative laws instead of punitive ones. Regulative laws for things like speeding, stopping at stop signs and red lights, and yielding to pedestrians might be well intentioned, but they’ve simply turned into revenue-generators for police departments. So much so that they’d set up sting operations and pretty much beg drivers to violate traffic codes so that they can ticket them.
Punitive laws, as the word suggests, would punish people not for violating a code, but for committing a crime. If someone gets hit, and he’s killed or injured, or if there’s property damage, you deal with those appropriately and harshly if necessary, and I bet that would be a better deterrent than the money-making regulative laws they have now. But if all you have is a code violation and nothing else, then there’s no crime committed. There’s nothing to prosecute. That also means there wouldn’t be a whole lot of money to make.