LONG BEACH — Police Sgt. Max Baxter recently put in an order for six smashed-up cars. The more mangled, the better.
By Wednesday, the autos--demolished in serious accidents--will sit in different spots around town as grim reminders of what could happen when people drive drunk or under the influence of drugs.
"What we want to do is expose people to these vehicles . . . and get big plywood signs telling people to buckle up, not drink and drive, that kind of thing," Baxter said.
Aimed at the holiday season, the display will run through the first of next year. It is the brainchild of Police Cmdr. Charles Parks, who said he wants to "raise the consciousness level of people who drive under the influence or without seat belts."
Every Long Beach high school is scheduled to keep one wreck on its campus for a week, Baxter said. McDonnell Douglas Corp. and the Naval Shipyard will become the temporary homes for two other pieces of twisted steel and shattered glass, he said.
Police would like to put others at busy intersections, but they believe the wrecked cars could be a dangerous distraction. The city's infamous Traffic Circle, for instance, was quickly eliminated as a site. "Drivers on the Traffic Circle have enough to worry about," Baxter said.
The cars are costing the department nothing. After their public service duty, they will return to their original destination: a scrap metal shredder.
Baxter said he expects positive feedback.
"I would imagine there would be some people who may not like the idea because it's pointing out some grisly things, but other people like the idea," Baxter said, because it is a reminder of "what could possibly happen to you."