Phony patrol cars will be deployed

May 23, 1997


Staff Writer

The police cruiser you whiz by on the way to the beach this summer might not be a car at all.

Maryland State Police officials Thursday announced a series of cloak-and-dagger strategies they hope to use against speeders, drunken drivers and aggressive drivers this summer.

"With the summer coming up, you do have many more motorists on the roadway," said Sgt. Laura Lu Herman, a state police spokeswoman.


Police will set up "illusion cars" on heavily traveled routes throughout the state, Herman said. The cars are actually plastic facades that appear remarkably lifelike to oncoming drivers, she said.

Herman said state police have three illusion cars, which were developed by the University of Maryland Police Department. They are the same size and color of squad cars and even have a silhouette of a state trooper reflected in the window.

The intention of the illusion cars is to slow down traffic, Herman said. She said they have proved highly effective in testing over the last year and a half.

But watch out.

Herman said officials plan to rotate them periodically, so the next time a driver passes the spot, it may be an actual trooper.

Another tactic police will employ this summer is troopers stationed in tow trucks, "cherry pickers" and other non-police vehicles. A trooper in the bucket of an extended cherry picker can record speeders 50 feet away, Herman said.

While those tactics will be concentrated in the state's more densely populated regions, officials at the Hagerstown barracks plan to target aggressive drivers as well.

State police in Hagerstown and Chambersburg, Pa., will launch a joint traffic enforcement effort this morning at 9 a.m. to target Memorial Day holiday motorists.

Lt. R. Bruce Tanner, Hagerstown barracks commander, said troopers working overtime will search for traffic violators on Interstate 70 and Interstate 81.

The Combined Accident Reduction Effort, or CARE, is intended to prevent accidents at a time of peak travel, Tanner said. It is preferable to writing tickets, he said. "Hopefully, we won't have to write the accident report,"Tanner said.

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