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Bayside Police Issue 25 Citations During Sting Operation

To bring more awareness of pedestrian safety, Bayside police ran a sting operation at Brown Deer and Regent roads. Lt. Tom Henkel would click the pedestrian crossing light and when cars didn't stop, they got pulled over.

The fluorescent lime green pedestrian crossing signs at Brown Deer and Regent roads blink furiously, indicating someone wants to cross. As the pedestrian takes a couple of steps onto the road, cars continue to fly by, not even slowing for the full-grown man trying to cross the road.

And what about a small child, half his size and less visible?

 Lt. Tom Henkel ran a sting operation Tuesday to get people to slow down and stop for the pedestrians that have the right to cross the road safely.

"People who are not stopping we are cited today. They have ample time to see it," Henkel said. 

But after given the ticket, Henkel said many people were trying to talk their way out of the ticket — even with children of their own in the backseat, on some occasions.

"What we're getting most of the time is people say they don't see the lights, didn't see me, didn't know that they had to stop, all kinds of arguments," he said. "So we've talked to some people in the station already and smoothed some things over with people already who just don't understand the law."

This isn't a new problem, though.

In June, the giving volunteer crossing guards the legal right to stop traffic to assist kids and other pedestrians crossing through the busy intersection. They were given training by Bayside police and outfitted with fluorescent yellow vests and handheld stop signs.

Since then, local families have joined Henkel and to help children get to school safely. But even with crossing guards, the issue of people cruising right on through hasn't been resolved.

"Kids have a lot of near-misses out here, cars coming around cars that have stopped to let people through, and actually passing them on the right," Henkel said. 

As Henkel clicked the button, the lights blinked and he began to cross. But cars from both sides nearly didn't stop. A few tires even squealed as they made a quick decision that they couldn't make it through the intersection. He radioed in the license plate and one of the three officers sitting on Regent Road next to took off.

"You've got to consider what they're going to do with some little kid with his backpack on crossing. Are they even going to see them?" Henkel asked.

And some people were so upset by the tickets they immediately went to the police station to complain. But Henkel said after a quick conversation, a few left in a much better mood than when they came in.

"It went very well. I had people who left shaking my hand," Henkel said.

Henkel said to this day, there have been numerous close calls, but, luckily, no children have been hit.

Henkel said in just a two-hour span, officers issued tickets to at least 15 people. He said there were definitely more, but that's all they could do with only four squads available. By the end of the day, officers estimated issuing at least 25 tickets. 

How does the department pay for this operation?

"Quite frankly, 15 citations, even if half of them pay $145 a pop, that's paying for those guys being there. We're not doing this for revenue, we're trying to get kids not to get run over," he said. 

Matt Heltsley April 05, 2012 at 11:45 AM
While I'm not a fan of tickets or traffic, I am all for this sort of operation. I find that people rarely slow down, much less stop, for these pedestrian crossings. I have been passed on the right at several. I didn't even know about this law until a couple years ago and I wonder if maybe that's the real underlying problem here, a lack of education by the driving public.
Sarah Worthman April 05, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Thanks for the comment, Matt. That seems to be the problem talking to officers and crossing guards. It's not your stereotypical "people on cell phones" issue it's a lack of expectation. People are used to just flying down Brown Deer Road and not really looking for pedestrian traffic. Versus Port Washington Road in front of Maple Dale, I think there's a stronger sense of awareness that there are kids all over and you need to slow/stop. What I liked about this story is people left shaking hands and thanking the Lt. for being out there. They may have been upset for getting a ticket, but once they understood, they left in a more positive position.
Kris April 12, 2012 at 08:48 PM
I think that what's made the difference in front of Maple Dale is that there are often Fox Point squad cars visible. If Bayside were able to park squad cars in the Bayside Garden Center lot in the morning, when kids are crossing, maybe cars would start slowing down.

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