EAST MOLINE, Ill. — Illinois troopers plan to start dressing up like construction workers as they patrol work zones.
"Somebody is going to get hurt," disguised Illinois State Trooper Ron Salier told WQAD. "That's why we're out here. We are trying to make a difference and educate people."
The undercover patrols began Monday to raise awareness for Work-Zone Safety Week.
Police said they planned to conduct more patrols in the future, but didn't have plans in place.
"It's not about writing tickets," Illinois State Trooper Jason Wilson said. "It's not about pulling people over, it's about keeping people safe."
Wilson said so far in 2019, 19 trooper cars have been hit. Seventeen of those cars were pulled over on the side of the road.
"Reminding drivers the human element that they are actually driving through," Wilson said. "This is a work zone. Imagine if you were at your office and somebody drove through at 80 miles an hour."
According to the Illinois State Police, troopers will be watching for speeders, distracted drivers and other violators in construction zones. The campaign is called "Operation Hard Hat."
“Our hope is the plain-clothes trooper doesn’t observe any violations. That would mean drivers were operating their vehicles safely,” said District 7 Commander Captain Jason Dickey. “Sadly, that will probably not be the case.”
Up until now, patrols in work zones have been in marked vehicles.
"They are still in great danger while they are out here doing their jobs." Wilson said. "They deserve the exact same safety everyone else does."
According to Blatti Law, out of Joliet, Ill., a first-offense speeding ticket in a construction zone is penalized by a $375 fine. A second offense could bring a $1,000 fine and a 90-day driver's license suspension.
This detail consisted of one observation trooper and three enforcement troopers patrolling in the zone for two hours. Within that time, 10 traffic stops produced 10 speeding contacts, one seatbelt violation, and two other equipment warnings.