The Darlington Police Department (DPD), with cooperation from the Darlington High School (DHS), recently conducted a survey of licensed drivers at the school to gauge interest in the return of “lap-making” on Main Street.
The survey was administered anonymously by DHS personnel and the results were tabulated by the Darlington city office.
The purpose of the survey was to determine what DPD’s role could be, if anything, in facilitating the return of lap-making. Furthermore, the purpose was to determine student perception of the police and whether there is anything officers can do to better serve the student population.
According to Darlington Police Chief Jason King, DPD decided to conduct the survey as a result of comments made by some citizens who blamed the police for the demise of lap-making.
And while DPD did not feel responsible for the end of cruisin’ in Darlington, it wanted to make sure today’s teens had a chance to voice their opinions in an anonymous manner as to their perceptions of the subject as well as of Darlington Police Officers.
The survey results revealed that even though there were some misconceptions about whether the police would allow lap-making, the misconceptions did not play much of a role in their demise.
Only 39% of the responses attributed the demise of lap-making to the police. The remaining 61% had to do with teens being too busy, socializing in different ways (internet, cell phones, etc.), gas being too expensive, or parents not allowing it.
A total of 88% of the students responded that they have no desire to make laps, citing reasons ranging from being too busy to simply thinking lap-making is stupid.
Lastly, the survey revealed that Darlington teens and Darlington Police Officers have mutual respect for one another with only 8% of the surveyed students stating they do not like the police.
King pointed out that lap making on Main Street is still legal and welcome under his administration; however, the reality is that times have changed in Darlington, and throughout the nation.
Communities nationwide have experienced a similar end to cruisin’ and researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) note that it’s related to the proportion of internet users. Social media may be taking the place of motorized transportation, they theorize.
“Virtual contact, through electronic means, reduces the need for actual contact,” said Michael Sivak, a research professor in UMTRI’s human factors group.
The New York Times, in a related publication, deemed the summer of 2008 as the year cruisin’ died in the United States, citing spikes in gas prices as one of the reasons. The publication discussed the fact that police officers who keep watch on weekend cruising zones from coast to coast say fewer youths are spending their time driving around in circles.
In a recent conversation with police officers from other southwest Wisconsin communities, DPD learned they too have experienced the end of cruisin’.
While the concept of cruisin’ Darlington’s Main Street on a weekly basis may be a thing of the past, DPD has partnered with the Darlington Chamber of Commerce to host a “Bringin’ Back the Laps” night during Canoe Fest 2015.
Everyone is welcome to join in and reminisce about the good ole’ days. Cruisers are welcome to stage in front of the courthouse Friday night, June 12, at 8:30 p.m. Classic cars are especially welcome.
There will be lap making, a root beer float stand, and 50’s and 60’s music playing. DPD will be joining in on the fun themselves while patrolling in a 1964 Plymouth Fury police car.