Military and Police

Hello, Dolly—Clandestinely-Placed Creepy Figurines Distracting Missouri Motorists

Despite the lore of police work being quite boring at times, cops in Jefferson County, Missouri are experiencing a rather bizarre fad which is hair-raising and botching traffic flows. Reports indicate the actions of someone (or several someones) clandestinely placing dolls along roadways in the southeast Missouri county resulted in distracted drivers. Not just any dolls, mind you—we’re talking about “creepy” dolls exhibiting macabre appearances such as hands stitched to the erased/expressionless face or outright decapitated figurines—the transformation between Hello, dolly! and Hell no, dolly! Ordinarily, culprit cell phones distract drivers and generate a steady share of traffic hazards; now it seems Chucky Doll’s cousins got in on the act.

Chucky with doll in a scene from the film “Child’s Play,” 1988. (Photo by United Artists/Getty Images)That  would be enough to distract some motorists to either want to suddenly stop to investigate, thereby creating a traffic hazard, or speeding up due to fright, also creating chaos and collisions. Any cop can attest to how common poor decisions while driving often culminate in crashes, some resulting in fatalities. Given that, Jefferson County cop shops harbor concerns that whoever is depositing these not-so-cutesy dolls may be creating the catalyst for traffic woes and potential perils to pedestrians and motorists alike.

We tend to be a curious species. I know I am. Indeed, it would grab my brain if I were to glimpse what appears to be a small being perched aside the road—especially a would-be headless little…being. First instinct and immediate assumption would be that there is a child in some form of duress. Who can pass that right on by? But stopping where/when it is not safe to do so becomes hazardous to many, especially the driver obstructing traffic and prancing out on the roadway to investigate something on the side of the road.

In motion, objects often become blur-like, compelling us to rubber-neck. And we all know what rubber-necking can do and how much we just adore being boxed in while dinner simmers at home-base. Besides slowing traffic (and drivers who justifiably want to move along), rubber-neckers often create what police refer to as secondary crashes: traffic accidents caused by distracted motorists watching other motorists who are likely scowling at the damage to their autos and/or the other driver(s) who carelessly caused such. Cops know all about excuses and the blame-game. Wonder if in Jefferson County, Missouri, it is now fashionable to claim “the damn doll did it!”

Ozarks First reporter Alisa Nelson wrote, “Creepy dolls have been scattered around Jefferson County in southeast Missouri” and “Festus Police Captain Doug Wendel (…) is concerned someone might get hurt.” Speaking to the local media, Captain Wendel said, “Somebody thinks it’s funny. Somebody thinks it’s cute. It’s all fun and games until somebody stops, thinking it’s a child in distress, and gets hit trying to help out.” I can see that happening. In my cop career, I’ve had motorists strike other cars, just by watching me conduct traffic stops or traffic crash investigations. Ironies abound in law enforcement, although I can not say I’ve had any capers involving bizarrely-expressed dolls showing up on my beat—the closest thing would be so-called “ladies of the night.”

“It’s just one of those situations where it becomes a danger if people stop and chicken-neck and then get hit,” says Crystal City, Missouri police Captain Mike Pruneau. Agreed. Then it also becomes an issue as to who is placing these grotesque traffic-distracting dolls…and what law may apply whereby an statute-acute prosecutor can craftily show the quasi-marionette suspect’s doll placements as the catalyst causing, say, the school bus driver somehow torpedoing the local sub shop with that large yellow thing containing a bunch of screamy-meemy students.

Ozarks Ms. Nelson added: “Police want people who might see one of these mysterious dolls alongside a road to pay attention to their surroundings and watch out for oncoming traffic.” Of course. We are creatures of curious habits, not much unlike the Banksy-type mysteriously deploying eerie dolls in a particular county in southeast Missouri. Some of us practice safety while others care less.

I wonder what “Sid” from “Toy Story” is doing nowadays. This ordeal has his fingerprints all over:

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is an OpsLens Content Manager and Contributor. Owsinski is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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