Slow down, dummy

Published 11:21 pm Sunday, March 22, 2009

When Alabaster Police Sergeant Kevin Papp sends out Officers William Smith and Jason Thrash on the streets each day at 6 a.m., the duo is joined by one other officer: Officer Bob.

Although Bob doesn’t stay with the duo long, he has become a vital member of the Alabaster Police Department – but he doesn’t even know it.

That’s because Bob is a dummy.

But to speeders on the streets of Alabaster, Bob is their worst enemy.

About 9 years ago, the Alabaster Police Department purchased the mannequin as a deterrent to speeders and those who commit other traffic offenses, like running a stop sign.

“Normally, what we will do is we will put Officer Bob in places where we’ve had complaints,” Deputy Chief Curtis Rigney said. “The next day, we may have a patrolman there, or we’ll revert it and have a patrolman there one day and Bob there the next. You never know if it’s him or not.”

But if you pass Officer Bob and think you’re in the clear to speed again, think again.

You might just turn the corner to find the department’s other speed deterrent: Radar.

Radar is an electronic sign that posts motorists’ speeds as they pass by.

Although Rigney says Bob is more useful as a deterrent, Radar is used more as a wake-up call.

“(Radar) is really there so people know how fast they’re traveling. You can easily look down at your radio or cell phone and be going 35 (mph) in a 25 (mph zone),” Rigney said. “It’s just something to make people aware of what they’re doing.”

But just like the real men and women wearing the police uniforms everyday, Bob and Radar are not without faults.

Bob has even had a few complaints registered against him.

“We’ve had people complain that (Bob) didn’t wave,” Rigney said with a laugh. “We like Officer Bob. We don’t have any disciplinary problems with him, he doesn’t call in sick and he’s never late.”