Can cardboard cops get drivers to slow down? One Texas county thinks they can

It looks almost silly as you get up close to it.

But one Texas county is betting that drivers won’t be able to tell the difference between their newest deputy, who stands perfectly still at all times, clenching his radar gun firmly, and the real McCoy.

That’s because Williamson County’s newest deputy only exists in two dimensions. This deputy lacks a brain, a heart and a central nervous system.

Some Austin television stations have taken to calling him the “decoy deputy.” He’s not the genuine article.

He’s made of cardboard, according to a tweet from Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody introducing drivers to “Deputy Wolf.”

But just because he can’t make traffic stops doesn’t mean he’s not having an effect, Chody says.

“You’ll never know if there’s an officer with him, if it’s an officer or if it’s a cardboard cutout,” Chody said in the video accompanying the tweet. “Watch out for Deputy Wolf or any other cutouts we might have popping up around the county.”

Initially, at least, Deputy Wolf appears to be having the intended effect.

“From a distance you can’t really tell the difference until you get closer, “ Masa Abe, an area resident, said, according to KXAS. “But by then you slowed down if you were speeding or not.”

Police in Tuscon, Ariz., tried this same trick, but with mannequins, in August 2017.

“We noticed a lot less traffic violations dealing with speed,” Tuscon Police Sgt. Corie Nolan told the Arizona Daily Star at the time. “So it kind of worked.”

Matt is an award-winning real time reporter and a University of Texas at Austin graduate who’s been based at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 2011. His regional focus is Texas, and that makes sense. He’s only lived there his whole life.