Cedarburg crosswalk safety; undercover initiative shines light on issue

Cedarburg police are taking an unusual step to ticket inattentive drivers. 

"You really have to watch – as a pedestrian. You really have to watch," said Denise Van Engel, a pedestrian. "There are people that seem to be in a rush or don’t see you."

Police in the Ozaukee County city say crosswalk safety has been a renewed priority since May, when a man was hit by a car crossing the street. Twice this summer, Patrol Sergeant Brian Emmrich went undercover. 

"I had a pair of shorts on, a bright-colored t-shirt – a goofy hat, so you’d stick out," Emmrich said.

Emmrich made it obvious, and even told people what the department was doing days in advance via a Facebook post. Some drivers did not get the message. 

SIGN UP TODAY: Get daily headlines, breaking news emails from FOX6 News

"We stopped 21 vehicles in about two, two-and-a-half hours," Emmrich said. 

Cedarburg Patrol Sergeant Brian Emmrich

But Emmrish said pedestrians are equally to blame. He said the takeaway here is – pedestrians have to be physically in the crosswalk for cars to stop.

"You’ve got people who sit on the sidewalks by the cross walks on their phones, talking – as a driver, you don’t know what their intent is," Emmrich said. 

FOX6 News spotted people criss-crossing downtown. But people like Van Engel say they are leery about waiting to cross traffic in the street. 

"I would think if you’re facing that direction on the curb – I’d think in the crosswalk, you’d get hit if someone is making a turn," Van Engel said.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get breaking news alerts in the FOX6 News app for iOS or Android

Cedarburg police are planning to do another undercover crosswalk enforcement in the next couple of weeks.