Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 | 10:15 p.m.
Detective Bret Theil scanned the heavy crowds that packed Fremont Street Tuesday night, scoping out an easy target.
The Metro Police investigator was unloading a fat stack of pamphlets on passers-by as they strolled down the neon walkway — a considerable change from his regular duties on the department’s traffic detail. Along with six fellow officers and a supervising lieutenant, Theil hoped the hourlong visit to the busy thoroughfare would pique interest in pedestrian safety and lure people into sharing suggestions or concerns.
“We want them to know we’re available for questions and we’re taking ideas,” Theil said. “We want to see what they’re looking for.”
The officers were joined by six volunteers from STOP DUI, a local advocacy group that partners with Metro on education initiatives. The groups hope to have a similar event next month.
The overall goal is to prevent vehicle deaths, said Sandy Heverly, executive director of STOP DUI, noting that Metro handled 47 traffic fatalities last year.
The goal for officers and volunteers at Tuesday night’s event, though, was far less ambitious. They were happy just getting people to stop, grab a leaflet and chat for a few minutes.
“There’s a certain way you’ve gotta do it,” Theil told STOP DUI member Valentina Ortega, who struggled to keep the attention of passers-by she timidly approached.
“I guess you’ve got to catch them off guard and just say, ‘Here,’” Ortega said with a grin as Theil nodded in agreement.