Sting operation aims to protect pedestrians

March 22, 2011 7:00:47 PM PDT
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 4000 pedestrians were killed and 59,000 were injured in U.S. traffic accidents in 2009. Police in Belmont set up a sting operation Tuesday and spent the day issuing tickets to drivers who did not stop for pedestrians.

Despite an army of motorcycle cops in plain sight and the presence of ABC7's camera, cars kept whizzing past the decoys who were attempting to cross at a crosswalk along five busy intersections in Belmont.

The decoys did not walk out until a car was at least 160 yards from the crosswalk, but that did not help Officer Heidi Morrison, who was one of the decoys. She had some close calls.

"They just didn't stop in time so I had to actually pull back out of the lanes to prevent myself from being presumably hit," Morrison said.

There was no lack of violators. Some just did not want to talk about it. Others gave excuses. Others argued.

"You can't stop," one ticketed driver said. "If you stop you get hit from the back."

Which is exactly what happened to one driver who did stop for the decoy. T.J. Pechetti was rear-ended by the person behind him. Police say the driver was following too close to Pechetti when he stopped. That driver got a ticket.

Many of the merchants appreciate these stings, saying the targeted crosswalks are particularly dangerous. Some have actually witnessed accidents.

Others called Tuesday's sting operation by another name.

"That's what I think it is -- entrapment," Mike Vail said.

Belmont police justified the decoy operation, saying it might save lives down the road.

"We have been averaging about three vehicular accidents a year for several years and we'd like to do something to impact that," Lt. Pat Halleran said.

About a half dozen Peninsula police agencies participated in the sting operation, which resulted in 77 citations.

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