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Restructured traffic division part of sheriff's office's community policing

DEPUTIES CRACKING DOWN

Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013 4:36 PM
Last updated Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 1:20 AM
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The restructured traffic division at the Richmond Coun­ty Sheriff’s Office has two goals, its new leader says: decreasing deaths and educating the public.

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Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Ramone Lamkin (left) and Sgt. Danny Whitehead look over paperwork during a Traffic Safety Division meeting.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Ramone Lamkin (left) and Sgt. Danny Whitehead look over paperwork during a Traffic Safety Division meeting.


When Sheriff Richard Round­tree took office, the county was coming off one of its worst years for traffic fatalities. The number increased from 19 in 2010 to 34 in 2011 and 42 in 2012.

The county had the second-highest rate of fatalities per capita in Georgia in 2012, said Lt. Ramone Lamkin, the new Traffic Safety Division commander.

“Before it just wasn’t effective,” Lamkin said of the traffic division structure. “There were just (deputies) out there randomly.”

Without adding manpower, the sheriff’s office has reorganized the division to put more deputies on the street to handle problems and put more officers in their beat neighborhoods.

Lamkin, who worked with the Georgia State Patrol for a decade, said he brought ideas he had seen working as a trooper.

Lamkin said there were too many reports of people “flying past” officers who they knew were too busy for a traffic stop.

Traffic enforcement will now be data driven, Lamkin said, placing more deputies in areas with the highest numbers of complaints and wrecks. Mike Padgett High­way, Bobby Jones Express­way and Interstate 20 top the list, he said. There will also be more officers on the streets on nights and weekends when concerns for traffic safety increase.

Pedestrian safety is another cause for concern.

In 2012, Richmond County saw the most pedestrian deaths in a decade, with 13. Lamkin said the answer to the problem is educating the public and enforcing existing laws.

“Not every encounter will deserve a ticket,” Lamkin said of pedestrians. “Sometimes we just need to talk to them and warn them.”

The sheriff’s office is discussing ways to begin educating the public on other issues. Lamkin said they are planning to go into communities to inform the public about car seat safety, into schools to talk to teens about issues such as texting, and onto Fort Gordon to talk to soldiers about driving impaired.

“You’ve got the enforcement side and the education side,” Lamkin said. “The first thing we want to do is lower the fatalities.”

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Little Lamb
46969
Points
Little Lamb 01/20/13 - 09:06 pm
7
2
Weekends

With more officers patrolling streets & roads for traffic violations at nights and on weekends, I'm sure they are making a lot of spouses and children happy.

Sweet son
10739
Points
Sweet son 01/20/13 - 09:17 pm
8
3
Didn't seem to see much about the structure.........

of the "new" traffic division. Tell us more about the numbers of traffic cars and motorcycles and what exactly they will be doing. Article detailed a lot of information about how bad the traffic situation is but little about details of how Lamkin will fix the problems.

thauch12
6857
Points
thauch12 01/20/13 - 09:55 pm
7
4
Roundtree forgot to mention

Roundtree forgot to mention his third goal of increasing revenue. RCSO is really big on that!

wildman
1157
Points
wildman 01/20/13 - 10:17 pm
7
4
Don't remember

passing a RCSD car and thinking they were too busy to stop me but I do remember a bunch of RCSD cars passing me. I guess that was a sign that I was not going to be stopped. On a serious note, I get passed by a speeding RCSD almost everyday going to work, seems like they may be running late.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 01/20/13 - 10:48 pm
9
2
Restructuring

Perhaps it will prevent the next person from driving in the wrong direction for 3 miles down the highway. Most certainly will have an impact on fatalities there.

fatboyhog
2024
Points
fatboyhog 01/20/13 - 11:46 pm
9
4
Naysayers..

I have never seen so much negativity. Sheriff Roundtree is actually addressing problems. Before you gripe about them, maybe you should support him and his endeavors. As far as generating revenue, maybe you should research the law before spouting off. And, finally, rather than gripe about the speeding patrol cars here, why don't you call to report them? The car number is plastered on the front and rear bumpers...

I, for one, am glad to see a proactive stance by a Sheriff.

Grandpa Jones
1063
Points
Grandpa Jones 01/20/13 - 11:47 pm
8
1
....

Yeah, I've been noticing more officers patrolling the streets and watching 4-way stops, lately.

specsta
6592
Points
specsta 01/21/13 - 04:40 pm
10
3
Augusta Drivers

Let's face it - those folks who tailgate, who drive the wrong way down one-way streets, who use turn lanes as passing lanes, run red lights, or speed 40 miles over the speed limit will not be the ones getting tickets. It's too much trouble to go after those guys, if past history is any indicator.

It will be the drivers who make a U-turn against a "no U-turn" sign, drivers who inadvertently allow their tires to touch a yellow marking on the pavement, drivers who do not pause for several seconds at stop signs, drivers who don't realize their tail-light or turn signal light is burned out, etc. They are the ones who get written up, not the crazy drivers who appear to have gotten their license out of a cereal box.

If Roundtree wants to improve driver safety, there should be warnings for minor infractions and citations for aggressive drivers who endanger everyone's lives on the road. Let's focus on folks whose driving can kill others.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 01/21/13 - 08:07 am
7
0
All for increased patrols on Augusta's Death Road.

The Augusta Chronicle documented that Mike Padgett High­way was the deadliest road in ARC last year.

I am all for this adjustment IF:
* it is done logically and not anally,
* it is NOT done with a primary goal of Revenue Generating, but with the primary goal of public safety.
* Crime arrests, not Traffic citations continues to be the primary goal of RCSO,

Plus I invite them to test out the concept first on Brown Rd.

We have 70+ MPH motorcycles, pickup and street racers headed to and from the Pine Hill Store and rolling through the 4 way stop. Any deputy would fill a ticket book in one night and keep a judge busy for a week.

BTW: we have some nice long stretches of road ideal for Radar.

pgapeach2
1243
Points
pgapeach2 01/21/13 - 08:26 am
7
0
Bobby Jones Expressway

I am glad they are trying to crack down on drivers who are speeding down Bobby Jones like their at the Daytona 500.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 01/21/13 - 08:51 am
4
1
BTW My Running score since taking office.

Sheriff Roundtree 10/1/1 (Wins, Loses, Ties )

Brad Owens
4727
Points
Brad Owens 01/21/13 - 09:07 am
7
1
More action on issues...

Looks like Sheriff Roundtree is making more changes for the better.

seenitB4
90854
Points
seenitB4 01/21/13 - 09:51 am
7
1
Tree

Keep it up Roundtree.....:)

seenitB4
90854
Points
seenitB4 01/21/13 - 10:16 am
7
1
Tree

So far so good.....give him a chance folks....

Sweet son
10739
Points
Sweet son 01/21/13 - 12:01 pm
5
0
Tree has ground to make up because of his..........

past mistakes. We will forgive him for his past transgressions and wait to see how it goes!

Cameron Poe
938
Points
Cameron Poe 01/21/13 - 12:04 pm
3
3
Look Im all for making the

Look Im all for making the roads safer. But, has anyone noticed where these officers have been placed as of late? They are at the end of Calhoun where it meets Washington Rd and at the Border of Riverwatch and Columbia County. Are these really locations we need police camping out? Calhoun just mere seconds from Harrisburg and its bounty of crime? The intersection of Riverwatch and Stevens Creek the true hot bed of crime in the county? No. I realize that crime does not pay except really for traffic crimes but still, take a look at the crime map for the first week in January. It's embarrassing. We have shootings almost everyday in the same locations. That is where the police should be camped out. Why not increase property values and the influx of new residents by lowering the real crime in the county? Just a suggestion. And before anyone jumps on this saying Im against enforcing traffic laws that is not the case. I simply think there are larger more glaring warts on the face of this county at the moment.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 01/21/13 - 12:07 pm
1
0
Just talk. You have to make changes when you are the
Unpublished

new MAN. You build your reputation on the failures of the past administration. How else do you justify yourself? Remember, "they are in control now".

GnipGnop
12466
Points
GnipGnop 01/21/13 - 12:15 pm
5
0
Only time will tell...

So far with only one exception I am impressed. I hope he continues to surround himself with capable people and listens to their advice.

thauch12
6857
Points
thauch12 01/21/13 - 12:42 pm
3
5
@fatboy, I'm not sure what

@fatboy, I'm not sure what exactly you mean. Can anyone justify the cops standing at the bottom of the hill in front of the Augusta National on Berckmans Road? Can anyone justify the guys standing at the end of Riverwatch? Noone lives in either of those two places and people driving excessively fast is hardly an issue there with the traffic lights and curves. It seems to be easy places for the county to make some money from people who actually work and have the means to pay their tickets/don't have time to waste in traffic court.

rational thought trumps emotion
2614
Points
rational thought trumps emotion 01/21/13 - 01:19 pm
4
1
Revenue

Thauch, FatBoyHog is correct, about 5% of funds from a traffic citation come back to the county and NONE come back directly to the Sheriff's Office so it is not about revenue generating. Also, 100% of the funds generated from super speeder tickets (15mph +) goes directly to trauma centers not counties, state govt. or law enforcement. And, if you don't speed or drive crazy you have nothing to worry about so it really is a non-issue. Where increased traffic enforcement takes place on a reular basis, compliance is gained resulting in less accidents, injuries and deaths. With Augusta rating in the top for injuires, accidents and deaths due to traffic fatilities in this state, it should be a top priority for the Sheriff's Office.

itsanotherday1
45434
Points
itsanotherday1 01/21/13 - 02:53 pm
7
1
It sounds like a positive start to me.

I just hope their focus is increased patrolling for the reckless/drunk driver as opposed to camping out with radar ringing up the cash register.

A person running 70 on Bobby Jones/I20 is NOT a hazard if everyone else is running 60-65 (which many do), and are not changing lanes back and forth. Some people just seem to get ticked because someone is going over the speed limit. Yes, they are in violation of the law, but not necessarily endangering anyone. LEO's can't tell if they are unless they OBSERVE, and you can't do that while ringing up the cash register.

thauch12
6857
Points
thauch12 01/21/13 - 02:54 pm
1
4
@rational, I never said

@rational, I never said anything about the money coming back to the sheriff's office. If you knew what the word "revenue" meant, you'd see it refers to the actual act of collecting income, which is undeniably, although not exclusively (arguable of course), what a traffic citation is.

Why in the world is the speed limit 35 on Berckmans Road through what is basically a parking lot with no life 50 weeks of the year? Why do the cops hide at the bottom of the hill on a road perfectly straight? In the face of such nonsense, I would say that the average citizen does in fact have a lot to worry about and it is in fact an issue.

ringmel1968
51
Points
ringmel1968 01/21/13 - 06:28 pm
5
0
Your doing a great job Sheriff!

Although I personally didn't vote for Roundtree, I think he is doing a so far so good job.
I have seen more RCSD's all over Deans Bridge Rd (where they are very much so needed at Deans Brdg & Glenn Hills Dr.)
They can also make their way onto Glenn Hills Dr. where all those idiots think they can do 65 mph plus!
I BEG you to!!

rational thought trumps emotion
2614
Points
rational thought trumps emotion 01/21/13 - 09:36 pm
4
1
@Thauch12

Play on words all you want, you imply that the only reason deputies are out there enforcing traffic laws is for the county to make money - well since the county makes around 5% off of a traffic ticket, that simply does not make since. A deputy couldn't write enough tickets to pay for himself along with all of his equipment, etc. based on those percentages so the county can't make money off of traffic enforcement no matter what words you or I choose to use. As you probably know, the Sheriff’s Office does not set the speed limits but to answer why it is 35mph on Berckmans Road in that area if I recall correctly it has something to do with a car load of teenagers dying because of speeding on the roadway, losing control near heath drive and the deaths prompted the speed limit to drop from 45mph to 35mph. As far as traffic enforcement at Riverwatch, I very highly doubt that the families of those who have died recently and in the past agree with your assertions and also doubt the families of those teenagers who died on Berckmans agree with you. Either way, this administration is taking a very serious problem in our area and actually acting on it vs. talking about it or ignoring it. My family and friends as well as myself use all of these roads and I am very appreciative of those serving and protecting us from speeders and others who fail to drive appropriately on our roadways.

Previously overlooked in Augusta, ignored or unknown facts; 1) According to MSNBC in 2011 Augusta-Richmond County was the 3rd most dangerous place to drive in the COUNTRY and the number of fatalities went up in 2012. 2) In 2012 Augusta Richmond County had 42 fatalities with a population of 200,000, by comparison Austin TX had 72 fatalities with a population of 1.8 MILLION. The only negative comment that should even show up on this page is WHY was this problem not being dealt with aggressively before now?

thauch12
6857
Points
thauch12 01/21/13 - 10:41 pm
1
0
@rational, for starters I

@rational, for starters I would love to see your source that states only 5% of a ticket goes back to the county because that is what your entire argument seems to be based on. Second of all, I never made any implication that cops ONLY write tickets to make money. It is certainly a LARGE part of why they do it, but by no means the ONLY reason.

Your assertion that decreased speed limits save lives is, at best, flawed logic. Making the speed limit 35 on a straight road will not bring those kids back, nor will it save any lives in the future. All it does is line the coffers.

itsanotherday1
45434
Points
itsanotherday1 01/21/13 - 11:54 pm
1
0
Yea, that 5% sounds fishy.

Yea, that 5% sounds fishy. I've heard that GSP tickets go 100% to the county, so which is it?

davidcouper
10
Points
davidcouper 01/22/13 - 10:52 am
1
0
Community Policing
Unpublished

Even when it comes to traffic control and safety, if it is community policing it has strong community involvement and support -- otherwise it's not. For more, follow my blog at http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com for ideas and answers.

toomuch
28
Points
toomuch 01/22/13 - 04:01 pm
1
0
Self-enforcement...

I would like to see somebody make the deputies set the example. I have seen deputies texting while driving, rolling straight through a "right lane must turn right" area, turning without signaling, and of course, flying down Bobby Jones Expressway at speeds well in excess of the posted speed limit.

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