shelby township plainclothes cop

(Photo: Shelby Township Police)

Shelby Township Cops In Plain Clothes, Unmarked Vehicles Looking For People Texting And Driving

They call it 'Operation Ghostrider'

April 23, 2019 - 2:59 pm

SHELBY TOWNSHIP (WWJ) - Watch out for sneaky police in Shelby Township.

What the Shelby Township Police Department calls "Operation Ghostrider" is full swing this month, with plainclothes officers driving around in unmarked vehicles, looking for people breaking the law by texting while driving. 

Police Chief Robert Shalide told WWJ's Sandra McNeill the problem has become "beyond ridiculous."

"Everyone's looking at their phone," Shalide said. "I was on the freeway the other day, I noticed a woman, probably for 30 solid seconds, never looked out of her lap with her head down driving on the freeway. It's actually scary out here on the roads right now."

With that in mind, they're partnering with a couple of other agencies in Macomb County for this crackdown. 

How does it work? 

"What we do, basically, is we send police officers in street clothes, in regular plain vehicles that you're never able to identify -- like a pickup truck -- and ride around and looking for people texting and driving," Shalide said. "They're followed by police cars staying in the area, and they'll radio in and say, 'so and so, a black Ford Tarus, you know, white female driving is texting and driving,' and then our officers will pull up, write 'em a ticket."

"And then the Ghostrider will keep on going and continue looking," the chief said. "Because he's out there with like a swarm of police cars that follow him around; so we just get ticket after ticket after ticket." 

While officers wrote 46 tickets in just a three-hour period, Shalide said, what this is all about is keeping residents safe.

He wants to make one thing perfectly clear to anyone who would complain about the program:  

"I've looked on Facebook; some of the comments they say this is a money grab," Shalide said. "We don't care about the money."

"I mean, out here, thank God, we have a ton of money and we have have no problems with our budget. This is far from a money grab," he said. "I've never even asked my officers to write any tickets at all; I'm not a ticket guy. We're about enforcement and making sure that our community is educated and our streets are safe." 

"Operation Ghostrider" runs through the end of April, targeting busy roads like M-59, M-53 and 23 Mile. At the end of month the department will evaluate, and may continue, or relaunch the program at any time without notice.