‘Fab Five’ use tickets and tweets in school zone safety push
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Getting to one Las Vegas middle school on a recent morning was like driving into a hornet’s nest of motorcycle officers.
Clark County School District police swarmed the blocks around the campus, pulling over traffic offenders left and right — including a Las Vegas Review-Journal photographer who was cited for speeding in a 15 mph (24 kph) school zone on her way to meet a reporter for the story.
These motor officers mean business, the Review-Journal reports. And they’re not just any officers: They’re the “Fab Five,” a school police traffic unit gaining social media fame with sassy posts chastising chagrined offenders.
No one is spared the possibility of comedic commentary that can include photos of offending cars (emojis cover license plates), hashtags, memes and humor geared to a Twitter crowd.
“Highest speed for the day was 97 mph by some dude in some beat up G ride,” the unit shared in one recent post. “#JankMachine #MoreSqueaksThanAPetShop.”
Another hit: “If you had $35,000 in traffic and child support warrants would you: A. Lay low and try not to attract attention to yourself OR B. Drive without a license and recklessly through a school zone.”
The hammer even comes down on school bus drivers.
“The wheels on the bus go round and round (way too fast) all through the town,” read one post with a picture of a school bus and the hashtag “#SchoolBusTED.”
The crackdown is noticeable. Last school year, the unit cited 3,601 drivers for traffic violations. Three months into the current year, the unit has already issued 2,133.
At the rate they’re going, police estimate the Fab Five could issue more than 6,000 citations by the end of school next May.
Sgt. Bryan Zink, school police spokesman, said nine district officers are qualified to ride motorcycles. Five are assigned the detail permanently. Because fines double in a school zone, Zink says tickets can cost from $125 to thousands of dollars depending on the infraction. Fines are paid into the court system, not the school police department.
The traffic unit had a long history before achieving social media notoriety until this year, when Sgt. Michael Campbell posted a photo of a car parked across a crosswalk. Now, he’s the comic behind many of the popular posts.
“A lot of it is from my childhood, like growing up in the ’90s, 2000s, just the movies, the songs we were listening to or whatever,” Campbell said when asked where he draws his inspiration.
He attributes part of the increase in citations to the positive reactions from people online.
“We’ve always been doing this, but … I think with that positive return feedback, it’s boosting morale for the officers,” he said. “It’s giving them, like, vindication of ‘Hey, this is serving a purpose; this makes sense.’”
Some may argue that commenting on the smell of a car or cataloging a motorist’s intoxicated behavior amounts to making fun of drivers.
Campbell says the point isn’t to bully drivers but to educate the public and spread awareness on the need to drive safely around schoolchildren.
With that in mind, he hopes to increase the number of people following the unit on Facebook far beyond the current number.
“The more we have following us, maybe tomorrow somebody that’s speeding or doing U-turns or whatever will just be like … ‘Oh, I need to look for these lights because these people are watching.’”
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com