Speeders beware: LCSO is on the lookout

By Matt Aiken

Published: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 11:21 AM EDT
The flash of blue lights in the rearview mirror could become a common sight for local lead-foots as the Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office is promising a continual crackdown on traffic violations.

The local operation has been deemed “Arrive Alive” and is a response to recent fatalities on Lumpkin's roadways.

“There were 12 traffic fatalities in this county last year and I want to cut that down,” said Sheriff Stacy Jarrard. “The reason why I'm doing this is to protect the lives of the citizens of Lumpkin County. I know it's not a popular thing but I feel it's needed for safety.”

“We're gonna crackdown hard on DUIs, speeding enforcement as well as seat belt and child safety enforcement,” added Major Mike Ramsey.

This is a change in policy for the LCSO, which in the past has left the bulk of speed enforcement to Georgia State Patrol (GSP) troopers, mostly due to a lack of available deputies.

“Of course we all know Lumpkin County and any law enforcement agency is short on personnel,” said Ramsey. “But what the sheriff had indicated to me is that we're gonna make time to do traffic enforcement. If we're not on a call were going to start doing this enforcement.”

GSP troopers and the North Georgia College & State University police force will be assisting in the effort as well. In fact, the former has already established a permanent office at the LCSO.

“There are generally two troopers, a minimum of one, in the county,” said Ramsey. “That's free policing. It frees us up.”

As a result, local deputies will be watching out for drivers who are traveling in excess of 10 mph above the speed limit.

Though officers will be stationed at their normal zones throughout the county, Ramsey said some of the main speeding hot spots include Cavender Creek Road, Oak Grove Road and Long Branch Road.

There are others as well.

“On Ben Higgins Road even though it's 45 miles per hour, I usually track people at 65 miles per hour,” he said. “And South Chestatee going down by Dairy Queen, the average speed in that area was 42 miles per hour. That's pretty fast when you've got two pedestrian crosswalks there.”

Ramsey said this will be a campaign without an end. In fact, “Arrive Alive” is more of a new policy than anything else.

“We don't even look at this as a job,” he said. “We look at this as a duty. When you have a duty you're obligated to do something. When you have a job, you just show up.”

Patrol Capt. Mitch Salian said he's already seen results from the fledgling effort.

“We've done more enforcement in two days than we have in three months,” he said.

Officials added that steps are being taken to ensure that those who are pulled over will be treated fairly by the deputies

“Policy is in effect for video and audio recordings for all traffic stops,” said Investigator Darren Martin.

Ramsey said he predicts that most people will support this initiative, but then he realizes that their enthusiasm may wane when they find themselves being pulled to the side of the road.

As it is, the LCSO command staff appears to have steeled themselves for a wave of incoming complaints. But complaints, said Ramsey, are far better than the alternative.

“I'd rather somebody get home and complain about getting a ticket than not get home at all,” he said. “You can complain all you want, but as long as our officers are professional and polite, then we did our duty.”