Troopers go undercover in highway construction zones

Drivers in New Jersey, California or Alabama might want to take an extra look the next time they speed through a highway construction zone. Officers are going undercover as construction workers and dressing mannequins in their uniforms in an effort to keep workers safe and get drivers to obey the law.

With the number of wrecks in highway construction zones increasing over the past few years, troopers are taking drastic measures. In Alabama, the state transportation and public safety departments will enact “Operation Hard Hat” by the end of July. State troopers dressed in construction uniforms will be equipped with laser speed detectors and hand-held radios to call waiting trooper cars when they see speeders and reckless drivers.

“The bottom line is very serious,” Col. Mike Coppage, Alabama director of public safety, told the Associated Press. “People are getting killed on our highways.”

Another Alabama campaign that will begin in late summer is already underway in New Jersey and California: “dummy cops.” Department store mannequins will be dressed up as officers and placed in parked trooper and police cars.

“Today, there might be a mannequin in the car, but tomorrow, the same car might have a trooper in it,” Coppage told the Associated Press.

In states that are facing increasing debt and cutbacks, this could be a low-cost solution since the troopers can keep a presence on the highways without having to pay an actual officer in the car. While the tactic might seem sneaky, if it decreases the number of accidents that occur, officials like Coppage say the deception is worth it.