Police and city officials in Ottawa joined forces on Friday, launching what they hope is a novel way to crack down on speeding drivers: a decoy in the image of a local officer. They’ve dubbed it “Constable Scarecrow.”
The metal, life-sized cutout of Const. Luc Mongeon – radar gun in hand – was unveiled at a community safety zone surrounded by homes, parks and elementary schools in Orleans. A recent traffic study there found that only one in six drivers obeyed the speed limit.
Mongeon, who has been a traffic cop in Ottawa for 18 years, told CTV Ottawa that he pulls over more than a dozen drivers in the school zone every day.
“They’re late to go to work in the morning, reluctant to follow the speed limit or just out for a joyride in the car and oblivious of the law,” he said.
This morning, he busted one driver going 170 kilometres per hour in a 50 kilometres per hour zone.
“It terrifies me,” Mongeon said. “If I had not been there, that car might have blown the stop sign, struck a parent, struck a child and killed somebody.”
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Underscoring the prevalence of the problem, seconds after Constable Scarecrow was set up, police pulled over two more drivers.
“As someone with a child who goes to an elementary school, we want to ensure it’s safe where our kids are walking to school (and) where they’re playing,” said Stephen Blais, an Ottawa city councillor.
Mongeon estimates that the scarecrow could reduce speeding by 20 per cent.
A second decoy will be set up in Manotick near another school zone known to have drivers who blow past the speed limit. By year’s end, officials want to expand the decoy program across the city and to add photo radar.
“Please slow down, be aware of the community, be aware of your surroundings,” Mongeon said. “It could be your kid, your family that’s on the road at that time.”