Highlands police 'officer' caught sleeping in patrol car
Jon Ostendorff • June 18, 2009 03:55 PM
HIGHLANDS — A woman called Macon County 911 on Wednesday to report that a police officer was asleep in his car and that she couldn't wake him.
“I stopped because a big truck about ran me off the road and I honked my horn over and over and he never woke up,” the woman told an emergency dispatcher. “Dead asleep in the car, I kid you not. It is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.”
It turns out the “officer” in the spare patrol car parked along US 64 east in Highlands was Manny the Mannequin, a retired CPR dummy and the lowest paid member of the Highlands Police Department.
Chief Bill Harrell said he has had problems with Manny sleeping on the job in the past.
“He does that regularly,” the chief said.
Manny became the force's 13th officer shortly after Harrell took the top job about four years ago.
The chief uses the dummy, dressed in a patrol officer's shirt and occasionally wearing sunglasses, to calm traffic in areas where there have been violations or complaints.
The ruse is common at law enforcement agencies. The N.C. Highway Patrol also uses dummies in cars parked along the road.
“It has been very successful,” Harrell said.
The dummy costs the town very little and makes drivers pay closer attention to the traffic laws.
The chief said Manny is a pretty convincing stand-in for an officer at a distance. But he has a hard time believing Manny would fool many people close up.
“It has no legs,” he said.
The dispatcher who took the call dutifully contacted Highlands Police to deliver the complaint.
He was told that, yes, it was Manny out there on duty and that “they have had problems with him doing this before (and) advised they would speak to him again,” according to the county's official report on the call.
Harrell said the department has tried to contact the woman who called 911 to find out more about the trouble she was having but she has not returned messages.