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December 19, 2014

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Drivers ticketed for failing to yield to giant turkey in crosswalk

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Gregan Wingert

Metro Police officer Michael Lemley dresses in a turkey suit to cross Charleston Boulevard in efforts to promote traffic safety, Nov. 22, 2011.

Turkey-outfitted officer crosses road to raise traffic safety awareness

KSNV coverage of Metro Police citing drivers who didn't stop for an officer crossing the road in a turkey suit, Nov. 22, 2011.

Metro officer crosses road in turkey costume

Metro Police officer Michael Lemley dresses in a turkey suit to cross Charleston Boulevard in efforts to promote traffic safety, Nov. 22, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Traffic enforcement

Smoke comes from the tires of a small black car Tuesday that screeched to a halt inches from a Metro Police officer dressed in a turkey suit crossing Charleston Boulevard.

Though it may sound like the setup for a joke, it’s no laughing matter.

A woman sitting in the passenger seat yells, “At least he didn’t hit him!”

Wearing the suit was officer Michael Lemley, who seemed unfazed by the incident and advised the driver to be more cautious.

“We wear bulletproof vests to stop bullets, but there’s nothing that will stop a car,” said Lemley, who first sported the turkey costume in 2010 as part of a program to raise safety awareness at crosswalks.

A black Mitsubishi, a white Ford truck, a silver Mustang — one car after another — failed to yield to the turkey-suited officer. Police officers in cars and on motorcycles chased down and issued citations to drivers who failed to stop for Lamley in the crosswalk.

“Green Dakota,” Lemley said into his radio, signaling another officer to pull over a green truck. “And she’s on a cell phone.”

Lemley does routine crosswalk enforcement throughout the year. But around the holidays, Metro takes a more festive approach to emphasizing the importance of crosswalk safety by wearing costumes.

“We’re probably going to do Santa Claus this year,” Lemley said.

This time around, officers were posted at Charleston Boulevard and Burnham Avenue; Maryland Parkway and Reno Avenue; and Maryland Parkway and University Road, near the UNLV campus.

On Tuesday, 64 pedestrian-crossing citations were issued to drivers, 15 more than last year’s Thanksgiving campaign, said Sgt. Nate Anderson. One person got a speeding ticket and another was arrested on a count of driving under the influence after failing to yield for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

Emily Melendez, who works near the Charleston crosswalk, takes crossing the busy street seriously.

“Several people have gotten hit,” Melendez said. “There’s a lot of people who don’t stop. They don’t care if you’re walking.”

Metro’s crosswalk safety campaign fell on a day an 11-year-old girl suffered critical injuries after she was hit by a car near the intersection of Jones Boulevard and Reno Avenue.

So far this year, 19 pedestrian deaths have occurred in Metro’s jurisdiction. In 2010, there were 23 deaths.

Though drivers were the ones being ticketed on Tuesday, Lemley said, it’s a two-way street — pedestrians are also responsible for playing it safe.

“Look both ways and look both ways again,” Lemley said. “Even though you’re in a crosswalk, do not assert your right of way.”

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  1. One day I hope Metro has time to stand across the street at 2:30 when Valley High lets their students out of school. They will be able to plug the hole in the budget in a day or two in that one spot.

    Those kids there run across in front of cars or against the light daily. Not a safe place to even think about driving any longer.

  2. @By pyronut
    I've seen officers break the law themselves twice at the crosswalk at Swenson and Naples near UNLV. The first time I saw them I had stopped for pedestrians in the crosswalk, happily thinking that the cops to my left were part of some plan to catch violators. Instead they made a left turn through the crosswalk and almost hit the pedestrians.

    The second time a cop car (with no lights or siren) sped up behind me as I was stopped for pedestrians in the right lane. They swerved into the middle lane and barreled through the crosswalk, while people were still crossing.

  3. Okay... I now deem the pedestrian stories involving police writing citations as officially mundane. I don't care if they dress up like Bullwinkle J. Moose, it's still a cop writing a ticket. You call that news?

  4. I.m in favor of catching violators, but...
    Personally, I consider this a set up, since the only reason the officer steps out is to create a "violation" that otherwise wouldn't have occurred. How about just standing there in civilian clothes (or dressed up as in this article), observing and radioing ahead for cell phone violators, rolling stops, failure to yield to an ACTUAL pededtrian or other actual violations which occur regularly at any intersection, any time of day or night. These drivers are forced into violations, unlike the other various intentional violations I mentioned above. By the way, I am 100% in favor of the DUI and license / insurance checkpoints, again, since any violator caught in those was not put into the violation by an officer. The officers in those checkpoints catch drivers who are already violating the law.
    These crosswalk stakeouts are happening more and more around the country in what appears to be an effort to raise revenue.