Sky Cops Are Making Sure Palm Beach Residents Don't Speed or Crash
We all do it. We get on the highway, notice there aren't any cops around, and stomp down on the gas like we're Tony Stewart trying to win the Daytona 500. Then we slow down when we come up to the trees where highway patrol cops sit and wait for speeders. Then we get back to turning our vehicles into the Mach 5.
But Palm Beach residents should be wary of one thing: Just because there aren't any cops on the ground doesn't mean there aren't any... IN THE AIR.
Sky cops are watching drivers from airplanes and catching them in the act before troopers show up and pull them over.
Yes, sky cops are a thing now. Welcome to the future!
I-95 in northern Palm Beach County has been expanded from three lanes to five, which is making commuters treat it like the autobahn and going bananas on it. This has driven the FHP to deploy sky cops to make sure people don't kill themselves.
FHP Sgt. Jewrel Wigfall patrols the highway from 2,200 feet in the air in a single-engine Cessna airplane.
"People just lose their minds when they get up [on the highway]," Wigfall told the Palm Beach Post.
He takes off from Palm Beach International Airport and patrols I-95 from his plane as it stretches from north Palm Beach County to Boynton Beach. He flies over mainly when traffic is light -- before and after rush hour -- and claims he nabs speeders "by the hundreds."
When he spots a speeder, he radios down to Lt. Tim Frith, who comes in on the scene and flashes the dreaded blue lights. Wigfall marks the especially aggressive drivers and tells Frith to target them, which is kind of a pain in the ass for motorists but also kind of badass.
Wigfall has special instruments on his plane to track potential speeders, timing their speed by marking the length of time it takes a speeding vehicle to travel from one lane to the next. And, if that sounds completely made up, Wigfall says he's yet to lose a case against anyone who's dared challenge him in court.
No one escapes THE SKY COP!
*1970s cop drama music*
"When you see the results of someone who drives aggressively and speeds all of the time, and you see these deadly crashes, you learn that you don't want to drive like that," said Lt. Frith. "You can hurt someone or sometimes even kill someone."
The only uncool thing about this story is that Wigfall pilots a single-engine Cessna and not, as we had hoped, an airship zeppelin with turbo boosters and laser canons.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.
- Hollywood Looks to Build Affordable Housing for Artists
Thu., Feb. 11, 7:00pm
Fri., Feb. 12, 6:00pm
Fri., Feb. 12, 7:30pm
Sat., Feb. 13, 6:00pm
- Divers Protest Beach Renourishment Project in Broward
- UniverSoul Circus Still Uses Elephants, Draws Protesters in Miramar