The help-wanted ad as a law enforcement tool

Yesterday morning I photographed the above sign attached to a utility pole next to a busy road about half a block from the front entrance to Kawaguchi City Hall in Saitama Prefecture. Here’s my translation of it:

PLEASE
Searching For Witnesses
If you witnessed an accident involving a truck and a bicycle at this location around 1:25 p.m. on Friday, February 18, 2011, please come forward.
Kawaguchi Police Department
Accident Investigation Desk
Phone (048) 253-0110

Posting this kind of sign at an accident scene strikes me as a good idea. But considering that nearly four months have passed, and that the sign has been up long enough to have ivy curling around its edges, I have to wonder whether this particular case is going well.

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3 Responses to “The help-wanted ad as a law enforcement tool”

  1. Locohama Says:

    I’d wager it’s not going well at all. You’d think or at least like to think that if someone had witnessed the accident they wouldn’t need a sign to tell them what they should do about it.

  2. tokyotombaker Says:

    You’d like to think that most people would want to come forward if they had witnessed a serious accident, but there is no limit to how irresponsible people can be, and even otherwise decent people might rationalize doing nothing by telling themselves that someone else must have also seen what happened, or must have had a better view of it, and the police can get whatever info they need from those other people. This reasoning obviously falls apart if everyone on the scene is thinking the same thing, which has been known to happen.
    Someone who had talked themselves out of “getting involved” on such flimsy grounds might change their mind if they saw this sign — but admittedly that would be a long shot.
    Even so, it is unlikely that anyone would be totally silent after such an experience. They would probably mention the accident they saw to a spouse or a parent or a friend — quite likely to several people. And if one of THOSE people subsequently saw this sign, they might pressure the witness to do the right thing. That would also be a long shot. But in a serious case — for instance, if the person on the bicycle died — it would be a long shot worth trying.

  3. Locohama Says:

    I agree completely.
    Such a contrast with NY where I think some people would be all too eager to say they saw everything even if they only had a partial view. Or would claim to have seen everything for the right price from a lawyer or insurance rep..
    I have a friend here who told me that some Japanese people would sooner not get involved because the hassle of dealing with police here is as she said mendokusai
    Anyway interesting slice of life post.. and you’re welcome on the RT. my pleasure!

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