CBS 2: Careless Pedestrians Walking Into Cars, Sinkholes, Hungry Bears

Ft. Lee police chief Thomas Ripoli has had it with people getting hit by cars. So he’s taken the logical step: ordering a crackdown on pedestrians.

“Pedestrians are now the new threat to street safety,” warns CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson, before segment reporter Derricke Dennis runs down the list of common misadventures the chronically distracted get into while walking — the kind of thing we’ve all seen at one time or another: people stumbling into fountains, falling into sinkholes, getting chased by bears.

This is not a parody.

Ripoli says he knows of 23 pedestrian-involved crashes in Ft. Lee in 2012, including three fatalities. From the chief’s point of view — if we’re to believe CBS 2’s take, at least — those people have no one to blame but themselves.

“They’re not alert and they’re not watching what they’re doing,” says Ripoli. “As of now, they are to give summonses to pedestrians who do not adhere to crosswalks and the lights.”

It appears Ripoli has also invented the offense of careless walking. Says a stern-faced Dennis: “Unlike careless driving, there’s no specific charge for being a careless pedestrian, but Chief Ripoli said his officers are watching — they’ll know it when they see it.”

Naturally, Dennis can’t leave well enough alone. Cut to Manhattan: “Imagine if New York did this,” he says. “Just about every pedestrian in Times Square would get a ticket.”

To back up their story, Dennis and his camera crew diligently track down and interrogate scofflaw pedestrians. The hazardous conditions they catch on film in Ft. Lee — wide roads designed for high speeds with no crosswalks in sight — get no mention. And if Dennis had done his research, he would have found that driver error is responsible for more than 78 percent of the thousands of crashes that kill or seriously injure New York City pedestrians each year, with failure to yield as a factor in 27 percent of those crashes. But why bother with actual journalism when you can simply point a camera at the street and let the anecdotal evidence pour in.

CBS 2 devotes one sentence to Ft. Lee’s reckless drivers, who are reportedly also subject to increased enforcement from Ripoli’s force. Befitting a footnote, the web video cuts out before Dennis can deliver the line.