Wichita's Officer Dolly out for rehab

If it seems like it's been a while since you've seen Officer Dolly monitoring traffic on West Kellogg, you're right.

She's on leave for, um, rehab.

"She fell out and landed on her nose," Lt. Guy Schroeder said of the mannequin dressed in a police uniform shirt and hat that's dubbed Officer Dolly. "She's got some damage on her."

Following the lead of the Arkansas State Police, Wichita law enforcement officials dressed the upper torso and head of a mannequin in a uniform and put her in a marked patrol car parked next to West Kellogg early in 2007.

More than 40 percent of the 36 traffic fatalities worked by the Wichita police in 2006 were in the western part of the city, and police were hoping Dolly's presence would slow drivers down.

It worked.

Traffic on that stretch of Kellogg slowed — at first because drivers spotting the patrol car wanted to avoid a ticket and later to see whether they could get a good look at Dolly.

"If you look at the stats on Kellogg, we haven't had the fatalities this year that we did last year," Schroeder said. "We were trying to slow people down on Kellogg. It worked."

Schroeder still vividly remembers one caller berating the good-for-nothing police officer who was asleep in his car next to Kellogg.

When he finally had a chance to inform the motorist that the "officer" was actually a mannequin, he said, "There was dead silence, and then the phone hung up."

Dolly paid a price while on duty, though.

In March 2007, pranksters splattered her and her patrol car with green paintballs. Other vandals have fired at her with pellet guns, Schroeder said.

A jump in traffic fatalities early this year convinced police officials more aggressive enforcement efforts were needed, Capt. Rusty Leeds said.

While the fatalities and accidents weren't happening only on Kellogg, Leeds said, officials knew the freeway needed to remain a priority.

"It's an ongoing battle up there to keep speeds down and try to prevent accidents," Leeds said.

For now, Dolly is off duty.

"We're going to get her fixed up," Schroeder said.

No timetable has been set for her return, but she's not ready to retire just yet.

"We still have her, and we may use her," Leeds said.

As to when that may be, "maybe we'll just surprise you," Schroeder said. "You never know."