Legions of police officers have been seen across major commercial precincts in Shanghai since the start of the National Day “Golden Week” holiday on Monday, and they are not there for counterterrorism operations or to escort VIPs.
The heavy police presence, in streets that are chock-a-block with tourists and revelers, has only one target: jaywalkers.
Shanghai is expected to reel in some 8 million visitors throughout the seven-day festivities as tourists flock to the city’s riverside Bund area and its glittering central business district, and major thoroughfares are already bursting at the seams since National Day eve on September 30.
Traffic signals are of little use when the crowds are so huge that many waiting in front of pedestrian crossings at a red light could be pushed off sidewalks, let alone the many jaywalkers hopping between lanes unfazed by the busy traffic.
Therefore, the Shanghai municipal government has deployed some 3,000 officers on to the streets to guard crossings and maintain order, moving in lockstep with one another to facilitate or intercept the flow of people upon each change of the traffic lights.
This extraordinary measure has been in place since 2014.
Visitors and national media heap praise on these officers who have to be on duty during the National Day break and guide pedestrians under Shanghai’s still-scorching sun for five to eight hours each day.
A Shanghai official told local papers that having offers in the streets was also key to responding to any emergencies.
The city’s Public Security Bureau reportedly has to draw recruits from neighboring provinces prior to major holidays and events, who receive considerable overtime pay and compensation leave after peak rush holiday seasons.
China’s most populous city has already been grappling with throngs visitors and traffic jams as its economy continues to roar.