SAFETY TOWN, BELLAIRE, OHIO -- A beleaguered and whiplashed Bellaire Police Department has sworn in a group of veteran crash test dummies as fill-ins after two officers on the already short-handed force were hurt in a slapstick rear-end collision with each other while transporting unruly prisoners in a madcap demolition derby-like adventure.
The dummies have been diagnosed with extensive pre-existing simulated neck and back trauma, so any mock Worker's Compensation claims will be the responsibility of the Ford Motor Co., and not the village, said Chief Mike Kovalyk.
"The best thing about these guys is that going through a windshield or being decapitated isn't really going to bother them much," said Kovalyk. "They can get back to work with replacement parts a lot quicker than my men can."
The dummies have been involved in thousands of crashes, much like regular Bellaire officers, so they have developed accordion-like spines, allowing them to absorb collision impacts while producing toe-tapping Hungarian polka music.
"OK, safe driving isn't our strong point, but at least this time, the cruiser didn't end up smashed, stripped and being used as a crack house," said Kovalyk. "I'd call a taxi to take our officers on high-speed chases or to shootings, but those damn cabbies drive like cops."
Before the recent wreck, two other officers were already off due to injury. The department includes nine officers, including Kovalyk, and two desk sergeant mannequins who work weekend midnights.
"We have auxiliary officers, but if we use them as active police, there won't be anyone available to dig graves at the cemetery, so we're once again turning elsewhere for help," Kovalyk said.
The crash test dummies have law enforcement experience, said Kovalyk, once dressing up as prostitutes and sitting on benches in the village's park in an attempt to lure some of the town's regular johns there as part of a police stakeout.
"Unfortunately, the only ones who hit on them were off-duty cops who didn't know about the sting."
The dummies all have simulated driving experience, so they may be behind the wheel very soon.
"The hardest part, like with our regular officers, will be to show them when to take their foot off the gas pedal and apply the brake," said Kovalyk.