Crime & Courts

Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |

Operation Thunder pinpoints traffic problems

Operation Thunder pinpoints problems

  • Follow Crime & courts

Operation Thunder took twice as many traffic offenders off Augusta streets as normal operations, law enforcement officials said last week. More importantly, the three-month enforcement effort showed where Richmond County’s main traffic problems are located.

The well-publicized effort began Feb. 14 in Richmond County and ended the first weekend of June. Traffic officers from across the state came to Augusta each weekend to assist in road checks and other operations to crack down on driving violations.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety started the “high visibility” campaign in 2007. This year, it approached Sheriff Richard Round­tree after the county recorded 42 traffic fatalities in 2012 after steadily increasing for at least three years.

Traffic fatalities are down by nearly half compared from this time a year ago. Nine people have died on roads this year.

Sheriff’s Lt. Lewis Blan­chard said those seconds spent with people during roadblocks gave police an insight into problems. It showed police what areas need more focus, Blan­chard said, and which areas are more likely to have intoxicated drivers.

DUI and child restraint cases were two categories in which officers saw higher numbers during Operation Thunder.

The number of child seat cases led deputies to be sent to a class for several days this month to learn how to identify seat problems, Blan­chard said.

Police had hoped that by operation’s end they would find fewer DUI cases. That didn’t happen, Blanchard said, but they did see a nearly 50 percent decrease in DUI arrests in the final weeks.

“We know the word of mouth worked,” he said. “The more it (the operation) progressed, the more we’d hear ‘I’m ready. I’ve got my designated driver.’”

Police made 307 DUI arrests and issued 488 citations for child seat violations. Normal traffic operations for the period in 2012 produced 172 DUI arrests and 85 child seat citations.

Another surprise for deputies was the number of teens violating license restrictions or out past curfew. In those cases, police called a parent to come get the teen.

Revenue from the citations has not been tallied. According to the Richmond County Clerk of Court’s office, a small percentage of the money can return to the sheriff’s office through the Au­gus­ta Commission, but the money comes with stipulations.

Blanchard said the department will closely follow the statistics in coming months to see whether trends return to pre-operation levels.

“We believe we will be able to maintain the momentum we started,” he said.

Part of that momentum will be focused through use of a 40-man traffic unit. Under previous administrations, the traffic unit was smaller and officers also responded to other calls. Now the unit is focused strictly on traffic issues.

Blanchard said roadchecks will continue, but they will not be as large or frequent.

If the numbers do return, he said, “We’ll have to do something. We owe it to the people.”

OPERATION THUNDER

A look at statistics from Operation Thunder.

CITATIONS

Seatbelt violations 330

Child seat violations 488

Speeding 58

Reckless driving 4

Uninsured 66

Suspended license 295

Traffic and equipment warnings 1,166

Other traffic citations 665

ARRESTS

DUI 307

Drug 59

Felony 17

OTHER

Fugitives apprehended 39

Recovered stolen vehicles 1

Road checks 33

Source: Richmond County Sheriff’s Office

Comments (17) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Riverman1
84272
Points
Riverman1 06/09/13 - 07:30 pm
12
5
Checkpoints....Again

I still believe the checkpoints stopping cars without cause at roadblocks are against the principles of the Constitution and more appropriate for banana republics. Practically, they tie up many officers with little return except interrogations of innocent citizens. We have to ask ourselves whether law enforcement can detain and question people without cause or not?

The U.S. Supreme Court said they would allow the procedure in the mid 80’s because it was a response to a national emergency, implying it was a temporary measure. That’s about 30 years ago.

mikeelliott
73
Points
mikeelliott 06/09/13 - 07:47 pm
8
10
I was subjected to 1

check point stop. It took a total of about 1.5 minutes. I used the time to discuss with my 2 children (ages 19 & 14) the reasons for, as well as, the end results of such check points. After seeing the numbers, I would gladly stop for more.

RunningMan
346
Points
RunningMan 06/09/13 - 08:12 pm
5
8
Don't have standards if you

Don't have standards if you are not going to enforce them. There are all kinds doing the wrong thing, and the laws should be enforced regardless. Thanks for making the roads safer for the rest of us.

nocnoc
42806
Points
nocnoc 06/09/13 - 08:53 pm
9
4
Well written butlots of data

Well written but
lots of data that leads you down the wrong path or the path that Government wishes to promote in this case.

If normally RCSO is busy answering criminal related calls naturally traffic citations are lower. Because they usually get written only when a deputy sees something.

Run a traffic focused checkpoint naturally the results will be much higher. So if RCSO pulls extra number of deputies off community and road patrol enforcement and has them go ape enforcing ...as the spokesperson said 100% enforcement... great things happen for Government.

1. Traffic citations go through the roof because of the extra attention to traffic issues.

2. Community enforce goes down and the song and dance of MORE deputies are needed goes up along with taxes.

3. Arrests and revenue good up.

As far as id'ing problem areas.
1. ask the home owners.
2. Ask the road patrol deputies.

We don't need Government running travel permit & papers traffic checkpoints with such frequency.

NOTE: if this becomes a frequently repeated scenario, there will be screams and flames shooting from the mountain tops.

1 thing for sure, come re-election if such BS becomes absent it will re-enforce our wide spread belief this was not about traffic safety, but it was about $$$$$.

Riverman1
84272
Points
Riverman1 06/09/13 - 08:54 pm
15
4
I'm curious if y'all would

I'm curious if y'all would also support random block searches of houses without cause? Or people walking down the street and in the mall?

southern2
6156
Points
southern2 06/09/13 - 10:52 pm
6
3
If Lester Maddox was still

If Gov.Lester Maddox was still alive he would place a billboard at the Richmond County line (east and west) on I-20 alerting motorist they are entering a speedtrap. This probably contributes to the many wrecks on this stretch of interstate. We have become the new Ludowici.

specsta
6505
Points
specsta 06/10/13 - 12:30 am
10
2
Leave Us Alone

I seriously hope the RCSO isn't planning on conducting more road blocks. Right now, they have a chance to redeem themselves from the Fourth Amendment thumb-nosing that has taken place over last few months.

The blame for these "security checkpoints" was going to be given to the Governor's task force - however, if RCSO decides to continue down that path, they will erode their credibility as being supportive of citizen's Constitutional rights.

Road patrols, driver education, yes - roadblocks (papers, please) - NO.

We already have enough federal government-attacks on our "right to be left alone" - but now we also have to deal with it at a local level, too?

Not good at all.

Riverman1
84272
Points
Riverman1 06/10/13 - 03:22 am
11
3
Giving Up a Little Liberty

Ben Franklin said, "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

Dixieman
15077
Points
Dixieman 06/10/13 - 04:22 am
6
2
Coming next:

The TSA pats you down in your driveway before you are allowed on the public roads.

southern2
6156
Points
southern2 06/10/13 - 06:22 am
6
2
All about generating revenue.

All about generating revenue. Another way to tax the masses.

Bodhisattva
6243
Points
Bodhisattva 06/10/13 - 06:22 am
3
1
"Operation Thunder pinpoints problems"

I really hope they'll do something about these traffic jams that keep popping up around the county for no apparent reason.

Clemintime
195
Points
Clemintime 06/10/13 - 06:31 am
6
1
Missing Statistics

It would be interesting to know how many stops/checks were made where there were no infractions cited. Maybe the above statistics could be shown in terms of percentage of total stops as well.

southern2
6156
Points
southern2 06/10/13 - 07:06 am
2
0
Another stat

Another stat pinpointed....red light runners=1,000,046.

Bodhisattva
6243
Points
Bodhisattva 06/10/13 - 07:32 am
5
2
I think the machine broke

I think the machine broke while tabulating failure to use turn signal violations. 4 reckless driving violations? If you get charged with reckless driving while sitting at a roadblock you shouldn't be behind the wheel to start with. I agree with Clementine. What percentage is this of total stops? Have they harassed 1,000 innocent drivers to catch 1 guy with a joint? Flip to the editorial page to see the rant about the NSA. A worry about a broad computer search for buzzwords related to terrorism but in our backyard we're stopped and searched on the street without warrant or suspicion going to the store to buy milk. I'd say this is worse.

Bulldog
1333
Points
Bulldog 06/10/13 - 08:39 am
2
1
off the streets?

I must say that this is one of my pet peeves. Just what the heck does "off the streets" mean? How many times have you seen a "Saturday night special" (remember those?) walking down the street? Ever spot a loose kilo of cocaine wandering aimlessly down Broad Street? It appears that our LEO's are spending a lot of time getting one thing or another "off the streets"! We hear that drugs, guns, drunk drivers and other criminals are being taken "off the streets". Perhaps what they really mean that criminals are being apprehended and removed from "civil" society. I support our LEO's 100%; I just wish that they could somehow lose that phrase... As to Operation Thunder, I have mixed feelings. I definitely oppose warrantless searches and stops without probable cause. However, it is technically legal and it does suppress the number of those who fail to abide by some of our laws. I suspect that a far less intrusive way to accomplish much of this would be to employ license plate reading cameras. In the mean time perhaps some legislative changes might be in order...

Riverman1
84272
Points
Riverman1 06/10/13 - 09:39 am
7
1
At What Cost?

So the stated purpose of the checkpoints is to decrease drunk drivers, but then we see where law enforcement touts the fact they made 59 drug arrests, 17 felonies, apprehended 39 fugitives and recovered 1 stolen vehicle. Of course none of those arrests were made because the officers had reason to stop them. So to justify the wrong doing, it’s pointed out the added effects of the wrong doing.

If we are going to point out how many lawbreakers they get off the road by stopping without probable cause, imagine how many they would get if they stopped everyone leaving the JB Arena after a big event and made them all show ID and observed them for signs of illegal drug use or public intoxication, all illegal activities? Make them walk by drug stiffing dogs? If anyone tries to avoid the checkpoint run him down and interrogate him.

happychimer
17756
Points
happychimer 06/10/13 - 12:01 pm
1
6
My daughter wanted to go

My daughter wanted to go through one of the road blocks. She had friends watching for one, and when she got the word where one was, she went that way. She was thrilled, and let the officers know she wanted to go through one. she also told them good job.

onecatfish
5
Points
onecatfish 06/10/13 - 04:39 pm
0
0
hear this.
Unpublished

keep in mind that operating a vehicle is a privilege, not a right."

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs