Alma develops new policing plan |

Alma develops new policing plan

Special to the Daily/Linda BaloughPolice mannequin Sgt. Woody keeps an eye on traffic passing through the town of Alma in Park County on Highway 9. The dummy deters speeders.

ALMA – Town officials have augmented the return of Sergeant Woody – the town’s beloved police mannequin – with part-time personnel from Denver to control the speed of drivers along U.S. Highway 9.

When former town marshal Rob Raskeiwicz resigned earlier this summer after becoming embroiled in an arrest for bribery and misuse of his policing authorities, the town board of trustees was faced with the dilemma of being without a policing force in the height of the busy summer tourist season.

While County Sheriff Fred Wegener agreed to have his officers respond to emergency situations, the board hit upon a solution for routine coverage by appointing reserve deputy Charles “Mac” McGonigal as acting town marshal. McGonigal, who works full time at the Federal Center in Denver and serves in Alma two days a week, has been able to recruit five other officers to serve about one day a week in this town south of Breckenridge over Hoosier Pass. The work of the personnel from Denver has combined with the return of Sergeant Woody – the police mannequin that occupies one of the two police vehicles used during busy times of the day.

Woody has been used for nearly a decade but hadn’t been seen for about a year.

Passing drivers may be surprised as their radar detectors sound the alert at one end of town and they pass an unsmiling officer (who for some reason now wears lipstick) standing guard over the opposite town limit only a quarter of a mile away.

In a recent meeting, the board decided the use of a wooden patrolman along with a number of different officers has worked out well this summer.

“I haven’t heard any complaints from the townspeople,” said Mayor Bob Ensign.

Board member Mark Dowaliby said laughingly that the only complaint he has heard is that, while the Denver policemen are friendly, “Sgt. Woody refuses to wave back at people.”

Residents have reported that vehicles initially slow at the sight of a police car as they approach town and then slow even more and chuckle as they realize that the occupant is a dummy. However, some have been unpleasantly startled when they discover that the officer at the other end of town is ready with a ticket book if they don’t adhere to the 30 mph speed limit all the way through the town borders.

The officers from Denver report their experiences patrolling Alma have been satisfactory.

“We have had an opportunity to gain good experience with the few runs we do have in Alma,” said officer Bill Mathis, who is quick with a smile and a wave for locals as they pass by.

According to Ensign, the board plans to continue the policing experiment for a number of months.

“It seems to be working just fine so far,” he said.

The board will take another look at whether or not to continue the arrangement as they plan for next year’s budget.

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