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Czech News in English » News » National » Town fights vandalism with dummies

Town fights vandalism with dummies

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People in Bystřice nad Pernštejnem have had an interesting unique thing since last Tuesday. The town’s representatives have namely found a remarkable way of fighting vandalism. They had three anger management “dummies” installed in various places.

The “dummy” is an almost two-metre high iron gate with three logs attached to it by chains. The logs have reliefs of human faces carved in them. Right next to them, also on a chain, there is a baseball bat. If a potential vandal gets angry, they can release their anger on the municipal “dummy”.

“I don’t even remember where the idea came from. Somebody saw it abroad and the town representatives liked it,” said the Bystřice Mayor Karel Pačiska last Tuesday.

There are now three anger management “dummies” in the town. The fourth one will be placed soon. They are part of the so-called Bystřice rest points, or information boards on the history and current affairs of the town.

One condition had to be met when designing the “dummies”: they have to resist even severe blows. Even the Mayor Pačiska hit one of the dummies located in front of the local primary school on Tuesday. However, the dummy has received even stronger hits from children passing it on their way from school. After one day the dummy was in operation, splinters started peeling off of it.

“It’s true people can destroy it, but we couldn’t put anything in the town if we were thinking this way,” the mayor was defending the project.

On the information board next to the dummy in front of the school people can learn about ecological activities of pupils. One dummy has cost the town about CZK 10,000 and a large part of the costs has been covered by the European Union.

The EU money has covered the whole project with gazebos and information boards. It has cost more than CZK 4 million, out of which 90% were paid by the EU.

The town hopes that the project of anger management “dummies” will help reduce vandalism in the town. The dummies even have their official name with the EU officials. In the bureaucratic speech, the “dummy” is “an active anti-vandal”.

According to the mayor, people will rather relieve their anger on the dummy than damage benches and bus stops. Only time will show whether his wish comes true. The question also is whether the project is not intended to help town representatives relieve themselves of unsatisfied citizens that would be otherwise knocking on their doors.

Local people shake their heads about the idea. “I don’t even know it’s here. It’s hard to say whether someone will be using it,” one of the Bystřice citizen commented on the town hall’s idea. “Well, it’s rather for children. We won’t be beating it,” said about a 40-year-old Iva, who was passing by with her children.

Bystřice nad Pernštejnem has been known for its unusual ideas. For example, due to its fight against slot machines located in the town. However, the Vysočina town received greatest attention four years ago due to its ban on smoking in restaurants.

The then Mayor and later Senator Josef Novotný at first banned smoking in all municipal buildings. Later also in pubs. The mayor was fighting against nicotine so vehemently that he, for example, forced his clerks to note down their smoking breaks in a special book and then make up for the time spend on these breaks. Later Novotný even wanted to build a memorial to the victims of smoking.

One year later town representatives removed Novotný from the office. His position was taken by a smoker who abolished almost all smoking bans. Today, the smoking ban is valid only in the town council building.

Bystřice’s anger management “dummies” were, however, overshadowed on Tuesday by another important event. A new modern sports facility was ceremoniously opened that day. The multi-purpose sports facility was rebuilt from an old athletic field. The reconstruction worth CZK 30 million was paid for from the EU money.

The patron of the new Bystřice’s facility is the successful Czech decathlon athlete Tomáš Dvořák, who gave the facility his name. According to the mayor, the dummies will not bear names of specific people for now.

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