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Patrols Put Airplane to Use in Beltline Crackdown

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

A state patrol sergeant estimates 77, 000 cars travel the beltline daily. He says even a minor crash can stop traffic. This week police hope to curb dangerous driving by taking a bird's eye view.

"We're watching for a little bit of everything today," Sgt. Dennis Kruger of the State Patrol says.

From traffic violations to criminal activity.

"One of our officers just went to stop somebody for one license plate, ended up having all kinds of methadone in pocket," Kruger says.

Kruger is one of 45 officers from a number of police agencies along the beltline.

"The beltline is not forgiving out here. If you have a crash, because of the speeds, we're not forgiving it either," he says.

They're issuing citations.

"He should've seen these squads he's passed ... still doing 68 miles per hour," Kruger says of one driver.

Kruger is a shadow vehicle, he spots drivers, other patrols then stop them.

"For every one we can't get, there's ten more out there," he says.

But perhaps the biggest shadow guides traffic stops from the sky. This week's crackdown includes a state patrol airplane. Troopers above use newly painted white lines along the sides of the beltline to monitor traffic.

Madison police pulled over this truck for following too closely, then called on an inspector.

An inspector took this truck out of service for some bad brakes.

"I had one this morning hauling concrete, it wasn't secured at all, in danger of falling off," State Patrol Inspector Scott Gouin says.

"Dane County has the highest truck fatality rate in state, and we're gonna change that," Kruger says.

Officers also want to change the average driver's behavior.

"The biggest thing is patience if someone wants to change lanes, let them change lanes," Kruger says.

Kruger says speeders might save themselves a minute, but they could lose a life.

In all, police wrote 191 citations, handed out 146 warnings and took three semi-trucks out of service for having bad brakes during Tuesday's crackdown.


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