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  #1  
Old 05-22-2003, 11:20 AM
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Homeless-disguised, Cops in Florida write tickets

Associated Press, May 22, 2003 - 05:21 AM

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KISSIMMEE, Fla.
Homeless advocates are outraged by an operation where undercover police officers dressed as vagrants, observed drivers running red lights or committing other traffic violations, then radioed ahead to other officers who stopped those cars and wrote tickets.

"Operation Vagrant," a sting operation involving the Florida Highway Patrol, Kissimmee police and the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, nabbed 171 drivers -- most of whom ran red lights, a violation that carries an $83 fine.

Undercover deputies stood along streets and gave the indication they were vagrants by pushing shopping carts and wearing fake teeth and tattered clothing. They also carried small cardboard signs, which read, "Sheriff's traffic sting in progress. Buckle up."

"It's kind of appalling," said Marilyn Gordon, executive director of the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida. "I wonder if it will be a consciousness-raising exercise for the law-enforcement officers."

Robert H. Brown, president and chief executive officer of the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, said the officers were being silly.

"It's ironic that they would use a disguise of someone that people think of as visually offensive," Brown said. "I just think it shows that the community's aware of the homeless problem. I wish they would solve it, rather than masquerading."

Osceola sheriff's bureau Chief Jerry Geier said the sting was designed to raise awareness about dangerous intersections.

Nearly 25,000 drivers were ticketed for running red lights in Florida in 2001, and 107 deaths that year were attributed to drivers disregarding traffic signals. Plus, police nationwide started a new initiative this week to call attention to dangers of riding in a vehicle without using a seat belt.

"Our ultimate goal is to make an impact," Geier said. "The last thing we're trying to do is disrespect anybody."

State Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, an advocate of stronger seat-belt and other traffic-safety laws, applauded the sting operation. His daughter, Dori, 14, was killed in a 1996 traffic accident in which she did not wear a seat belt.

"I admire them for being creative," Slosberg said.
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  #2  
Old 05-22-2003, 11:24 AM
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Bruce128iC Bruce128iC is offline
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Personally, I don't see a problem with this. Wish they would do it out here in LA....God knows we have the homeless and everyone runs red lights here. I'm glad they are putting up more of the cameras at intersections now to take pics as people run the red lights.
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Old 05-22-2003, 11:26 AM
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Melissa Melissa is offline
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They did this several years ago in St. Pete. Personally, I didn't have a problem with it since they were clearly holding signs telling passers-by what they were doing. I guess I can see the other side of it, tho, and why some might be offended.
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Old 05-22-2003, 11:33 AM
klangford klangford is offline
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If you're allowed to run with a V1 to find a cop hiding, he should be allowed to hide and catch you speeding, running redlights, etc.

This is just a bunch of sour grapes from those who get caught speeding. I've never gotten a ticket I didn't deserve. I recall a Florida Highway Patrol in a dodge stealth trying to get to race him when I had my NSX.....I decided not to race that day but had I, it woulda been a ticket I deserved.
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Old 05-22-2003, 01:32 PM
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If they're nabbing red light runners, to them.
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Old 05-22-2003, 01:39 PM
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People who run red lights suck.
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Old 05-22-2003, 01:44 PM
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I don't have a problem with nabbing red light runners....I do think this fellow has a point though..

Quote:
"It's ironic that they would use a disguise of someone that people think of as visually offensive," Brown said. "I just think it shows that the community's aware of the homeless problem. I wish they would solve it, rather than masquerading."
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Old 05-22-2003, 02:04 PM
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I think the homeless problem is very hard to solve unfortunately.

A few months ago we were in Santa Monica (the west coast home of homeless, it seems) and there was this homeless guy (young) camped out in a doorway at night talking on his cellphone! Was just a weird image for me to see....a homeless dude with a cellphone! Where does his bill get sent to?
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