WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office brought on a new deputy this week that’s cut out specifically for speed enforcement.
Drivers near the Fern Bluff Elementary School in Round Rock may have noticed a life-sized cutout Tuesday morning of a deputy holding a radar gun.
Sheriff Robert Chody took a picture of one of his own traffic deputies and had it blown up to serve as a decoy in places like school zones.
“We want people to think that he’s a real deputy,” Lt. Gary Haston said.
“When [drivers] enter a school zone, they see him with a radar gun,” he added. “They believe he’s actually radar-ing traffic, so therefore they’re going to slow down.”
Sheriff Chody tweeted out a video showing the convincing cutout being deployed for the first time.
“It doesn’t necessarily take a ticket to get people to slow down,” Lt. Haston said. “This is just another way to enforce compliance.”
Masa Abe, a father who lives near the school, said he thought the cutout idea was funny initially, but he can see how it could be effective.
“From a distance you can’t really tell the difference until you get closer, ” Abe said, “but by then you slowed down if you were speeding or not.”
Speed enforcement has taken some unusual turns in the past. Police in Round Rock once placed a mannequin in a patrol car to get drivers to slow down, while Leander police told KXAN that they had put empty patrol cars in different spots to act as a deterrent.
Currently many police departments, including Cedar Park and Leander, use signs with digital speed readers to show drivers their speeds in hopes that they’ll be more aware of how fast they’re going.
The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office may have more cutouts made in the future, but that all depends on how successful the deputies feel the current one is at deterring speeds.
Deputies said they used money seized from drug cartels, not any public funds, to pay for the initial decoy deputy.