If it walks like a duck…

…it might be cops running a traffic ticket trap. This past Halloween, an undercover officer in Fort Lee, New Jersey, dressed up in a duck costume for work. From the article:

Last week, an undercover officer was dressed in a giant Donald Duck costume and paced back and forth on the sidewalk and street on a busy road.

Officers would then pull over drivers who failed to yield for the duck, and hit them with $230 traffic tickets. Police issued a whopping 130 tickets that day for a total take of $29,900.00.

Note the numbers. Even if well over half of those motorists challenge the tickets, that’s still a take well into five figures.

I am quite alarmed by the way the agency did this. It would be one thing if there was a full-scale public awareness campaign, either in the weeks leading up to Halloween or at some other time in the year (say, as summer vacation for school-age children approaches in late April and May) and then the cops started writing tickets. The duck costume could well be considered a distraction in and of itself given the hour of the day; this appeared to have taken place during the daylight hours, well before most kids would be out for trick-or-treating. Also, stated later in the article:

However, video footage of the operation shows that the officer dressed in the duck suit was intentionally confusing motorists, walking back and forth between the street and the sidewalk, and making confusing hand gestures.

At the very least, this toes right up to the dividing line of entrapment. In all likelihood, it goes way over it.

I have not seen a followup story to this stating anything along the lines that Fort Lee cancelled the tickets or refunded any fines paid by drivers. In the words of another famous cartoon duck, this is just despicable.