If you are driving along Flathead’s west shore, it is likely you’ll notice what looks like a speed trap in Lakeside.
Lakeside is located on Highway 93, south of Kalispell.
Residents say a decoy officer is helping keep drivers in line. The apparent patrol car sits behind a few bushes.
Lakeside resident Shannon Farmer always noticed a speeding problem.
“Coming down this hill at 70 or 80 miles an hour is a regular thing,” Farmer said.
However, the speed limit is 45 miles per hour.
Farmer knew something needed to be done, so he bought a security car off eBay for $2,000. He thought it would be a good decoy to get people to slow down. Farmer then purchased a dummy from an auction for $250. He dressed it, named it “Doug,” and made it look life-like. He says it works every time.
“With that patrol car there, unless it is someone local that’s used to it, they hit their brakes pretty quick,” Farmer said.
Law enforcement officials don’t mind it.
“We obviously think it’s a good idea. Anything that can help us slow people down, obey the traffic laws, do the speed limit, it’s a great thing,” said Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry.
"Highway Patrol has told me in the past they appreciate it. They used to sit down here quite a bit and they don't have to patrol this a whole lot anymore," Farmer said.
It looks real and it acts as a real patrol car. NBC Montana spent time in the area and saw people heading north and south on the highway slam on their brakes when they see the car.
“I even slow down when I see it,” Curry said.
The car has real radar. Farmer also says he keeps the parking lights and radio on at night, making it seem real.
"It works. People -- when they see a law enforcement car looking like its running radar -- they lift their foot of the gas," Curry said.
This isn’t the only decoy patrol car. Another Lakeside resident purchased an old black and white and put a dummy in the driver seat. Fundraisers for that car helped fund new flashing speed limit signs in Lakeside, which sit across the street from “Officer Doug.”
"I figured it has saved a few accidents and maybe a few lives in the last couple years," Farmer said.
Farmer’s experiment is catching on. People in Bigfork want some of their own, making more heads turn.