Troopers in town to handle traffic
With local police managing events, state lends aid
Staff Writer

You may want to slow down if you are driving around Columbus this weekend.

Since the Columbus Police Department and Muscogee County Sheriff's Office will be preoccupied Saturday and Sunday with the SOA Watch protest at the Fort Benning main gate and the God Bless Fort Benning program at the Columbus Civic Center on Saturday, the Georgia State Patrol will be in town concentrating on traffic enforcement.

About 15 state troopers from across the seven-post region will be working Columbus streets Saturday and Sunday.

"I wouldn't classify it as a crackdown," said Georgia State Patrol Lt. Keith Canup. "If the troopers are going to be there, we would like for them to work and make their presence known."

They did a year ago. Dozens of cars along major roads such as Veterans Parkway and Victory Drive were stopped and ticketed for moving violations. City officials and troopers don't have an exact number of citations issued during the SOA Watch protest a year ago.

Columbus Police Maj. Julius Graham said local motorists might not want to press their luck this weekend.

"But my advice to motorists all the time is to slow down and obey the traffic laws," Graham said.

The difference, Graham said, between the troopers and the Columbus Police is the troopers will be focusing primarily on traffic violations.

"Because they don't answer calls for service through 911, they can concentrate simply on traffic enforcement," Graham said. "Beat officers -- because of their other responsibilities -- may have another call that is a higher priority."

It is not unusual for state troopers to work where local law enforcement is spread thin. The unit coming in this weekend is called a high intensity traffic team. They work festivals throughout the region and races at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton.

"Our main job is to assist local law enforcement," Canup said.
Contact Chuck Williams at 706-320-4485 or