Murray County speeders to face radar

Mark Millican

CHATSWORTH — A lead foot on the gas pedal could lead to citations and fines once the Murray County Sheriff’s Office is certified to use radar to catch speeders. Sole commissioner David Ridley OKed their use at his public meeting on Tuesday.
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“When I came into office, this is one of the things I wanted to look at,” said Ridley, adding he does not think radar has ever been used by sheriff’s deputies. Chief Deputy Ray Sitton said he does not remember the sheriff’s office using radar either.
“We’ve worked with the (Georgia) state patrol and they’ve done a good job of patrolling our roads, but they’re shorthanded,” Ridley said. “From a safety standpoint, I felt like the time was right for this.”
Ridley said another reason he wants to use radar is to help take drugs off the streets, believing officers can better identify impaired drivers when they have them pulled over.
“We will not be pulling over grandmothers who are pulling out of church in the afternoon going two miles an hour over the speed limit,” he assured. But he did point to Highway 225 as a thoroughfare deputies will focus on.
“When I was with the fire department, it seemed like we were having a fatality (on 225) once a month,” he said.
The county already has three radar units, Ridley said, and three deputies who are certified to use them.
Certification from the state Department of Transportation will have to be obtained before the units can be activated on state highways, he said.
“That shouldn’t be too long,” he said. “But before running radar on county roads, we will have to pay $18,000 to have studies done (on the roads) to establish the right speeds and to put up signs.”
Ridley said the county will probably contract with Moreland Altobelli and Associates, an engineering firm, to do the work. He noted the only other costs the county will incur will be to get more officers certified on radar. Those expenses would be paid by the county’s special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) account, and not through speeding fines, he explained.
Sitton said radar would be used in “problem areas” like school crossings, and also where out-of-towners come into Murray County to work.
“There are a lot of roads on the north end where people cut through from Tennessee to save time coming to work here, like when they’re running late,” he said. “We have a lot of problems from that, and also from people passing school buses.”
Sitton said the sheriff’s office will also take seriously comments from citizens who report habitual speeders in areas where they live