Crime & Courts

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

New HEAT crew to focus on traffic enforcement

Sunday, March 30, 2014 8:10 PM
Last updated Monday, March 31, 2014 3:24 PM
  • Follow Crime & courts

Watch out, there’s a new cop car in town.

One of three Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic cars. HEAT officers will hit the streets with a goal of cutting down on driving offenses and increasing safety on the roadways.   TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
One of three Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic cars. HEAT officers will hit the streets with a goal of cutting down on driving offenses and increasing safety on the roadways.


A three-man HEAT crew, driving blue cars instead of the normal silver and black, will start patrolling this week with a primary focus on traffic enforcement.

The sheriff’s office received a three-year $625,000 HEAT, or Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic, grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety because of the number of fatal crashes in the county. Fatalities doubled in 2011 to 32 and then increased again in 2012 by 37 percent, and these programs have proven to be effective in preventing traffic-related deaths.

Operation Thunder, also funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, was credited with lowering the number of fatalities to 25 last year. So far this year, three people have died in traffic crashes compared to six this time last year.

“There’s no question that people’s behavior has changed,” said Lt. Lewis Blanchard. Police hope the HEAT’s efforts will further reduce numbers and “make people think” when getting behind the wheel.

The grant provides $250,000 for the first year, which includes three new, fully-equipped Dodge Chargers and the salaries for two of the three officers. The sheriff’s office pays the salary of the third. The rest of the money will be used the remaining two years.

The officers – Deputies Cam Darling and Albert Parrish and Cpl. Brandon Reeves – were already employed by the sheriff’s office and have advanced training in field sobriety, DUI, drug recognition, child seat safety inspections and other areas. Darling was recently named Officer of the Year through MADD for 302 DUI arrests he made in 2013. Blanchard said regular deputies make five to 10 a year and those dedicated to DUI average 200.

The officers, equipped with body cameras, are required to spend 97 percent of their time on traffic enforcement, but do not have a ticket or warning quota. Importance is placed on making contact and correcting
behaviors than fines and fees.

“It’s always up the officer’s discretion (to write a ticket),” Blanchard said.

One officer will be assigned to a mid-shift, and two officers will be on the late shift which runs from 6 p.m. to around 5 a.m.

“The majority of our crashes occur late in the evening,” Sgt. Danny Whitehead said. “People are on the way home then they go change and go on to dinner so there are more people on the roads at one time.”

This is the third time the sheriff’s office has been approved for the grant. It ran most recently from 2006 to 2009. After three years, the sheriff’s office can reapply for the program.

The three new cars are in the final stages of preparation and are expected to be released to the sheriff’s office on Monday.

Blanchard said the goal was to get the cars ready before Masters Week to help with the influx in traffic.

Comments (21) 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.
itsanotherday1
48148
Points
itsanotherday1 03/30/14 - 07:26 pm
8
2
Much preferred to roadblock

Much preferred to roadblock dragnets. I hope they are successful.

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 03/30/14 - 10:19 pm
9
0
Traffic enforcement
Unpublished

Those of us with drivers’ licenses have a contract with the State. I will do certain things, maintain insurance, have a safe vehicle, and operate it safely and so on. The State will maintain good, safe roads and keep those who will not follow the rules off the roads. Drunks, feeble minded, people who want to play in the road and others should be removed for the safety of all concerned. Tailgaters, speeders, drunks, stoners and bicyclist who ride in traffic or golf carts on a public roadway, all these we only hope are the target of the extra law enforcement efforts.

corgimom
38230
Points
corgimom 03/31/14 - 04:53 am
9
5
If you obey the traffic laws,

If you obey the traffic laws, and have a driver's license, registration, and insurance, you don't need to worry about being stopped or a traffic checkpoint.

Graymare
3780
Points
Graymare 03/31/14 - 05:38 am
6
0
What about the folks swerving

What about the folks swerving all over because they are texting and driving? Then there's the folks blocking passing lanes because they driving too slow and are talking on their cellphone instead of paying attention to the road. I sure hope they pull those folks over for a conversation.

seenitB4
96837
Points
seenitB4 03/31/14 - 06:07 am
4
2
Great

I wish you had the money for 3 more cars.

useful
750
Points
useful 03/31/14 - 07:27 am
4
0
I do not drink,but I think

I do not drink,but I think someone who has make 302 dui arrest in a year will have a nice retirement account.

bdouglas
5766
Points
bdouglas 03/31/14 - 08:16 am
5
0
If they're anything like the

If they're anything like the North Augusta HEAT cars, they'll just be the elite speeding ticket force. I get the impression that these vehicles are more of a "prize" (in NA and in RC) for officers that 'produce' the most.

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 03/31/14 - 08:46 am
6
0
WOW....

$625,000 for three cars? Maybe they should have shopped around a bit. By my calculations, they could have bought 20 fully equipped cruisers for that kind of money.

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 03/31/14 - 08:53 am
6
0
Corgimom said:

Corgimom said: If you obey the traffic laws, and have a driver's license, registration, and insurance, you don't need to worry about being stopped or a traffic checkpoint.

Based on that logic, would it would be OK for them to come and search your house since you have nothing to hide?

Those who would trade freedom for safety, deserve neither. -Ben Franklin.

justthefacts
24891
Points
justthefacts 03/31/14 - 09:10 am
4
0
Yes, Navy Gary

Yeah, no worries. Unless of course you are trying to, you know, GET somewhere on a schedule.

itsanotherday1
48148
Points
itsanotherday1 03/31/14 - 09:25 am
4
0
You beat me to it Navy Gary.

If you've done nothing wrong, you wouldn't mind a cop stopping you at random coming out of the store and frisking you down and checking your purse, right?

I'm sure they will snag a few with illegal pills, a little weed, or maybe a weapon here and there....

It will only delay you a couple of minutes if you are clean; and its for the greater good of getting the lawbreakers off the street, right?

Sweet son
11492
Points
Sweet son 03/31/14 - 10:07 am
3
0
Navy Gary is right! That's a lot of money for three cars

and two deputies. Hope Blanchard spends it on the project and not more nice to haves for other deputies.

Roundtree has had a holiday with 'our' money since he came into office. And incredibly he is not being held to the budget reductions required of other departments. He's done a good job but we all know there is fluff and he needs to be made to adhere to the budget reduction proposal.

dichotomy
37344
Points
dichotomy 03/31/14 - 10:15 am
5
0
I'm sure the folks in the

I'm sure the folks in the Peach Orchard Waffle House or the Hephzibah bank will be happy to know we've got some more traffic ticket writing cops. Yes sir, I'll feel safer eating my breakfast and depositing my money. HEAT.....yeh...I get it......in Richmond County........Hello Everthing's About Traffic

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 03/31/14 - 11:12 am
4
0
It looks like...

It looks like they are trying to beef up all police departments these days. North Augusta just got a "Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle" (who knows what that is for?) and now $625k for this crappe? What are people thinking to allow their tax dollars to be spent like this?
For the sake of everything people, we are almost 17 TRILLION dollars in debt. The debt is now more than 6 times the yearly tax revenue, while spending is 1.25 times the yearly tax revenue. If you translate that to your personal finances, it would be like one of us making $50k per year and spending $62.5k per year, carrying $300k in debt. Do you think the bank would extend further credit to any of us with that credit history? Fat chance!

GiantsAllDay
10463
Points
GiantsAllDay 03/31/14 - 11:43 am
0
5
Republicans in Georgia will

Republicans in Georgia will take money from the feds any time, whether it is MOX, etc. Oh, ya unless the money is for compassionate service like medical care, then they will tell the feds to get lost. As long as they get to screw with the citizens, that is what Republicans are all about---And by the way, I keep a copy of the Georgia penal code in the trunk of my car. And when a cop pulls me over I get it out of my trunk and hand it to him and I ask him to identify to me which section of the code he is accusing me of violating.

GiantsAllDay
10463
Points
GiantsAllDay 03/31/14 - 11:58 am
0
3
Just in time for Masters

Just in time for Masters Week. Coincidence? You decide. To all the visitors coming here in April. Georgia has no infractions. It is a crazy state with crazy laws. A misdemeanor is the lowest you can be charged with in this state. Speeding is a misdemeanor in Georgia. Spitting on the sidewalk is a misdemeanor in Georgia. In California and other free thinking places it is an infraction. The definition of an infraction: No jail time, a fine only and no criminal record. A police officer can't even take you to jail for an infraction. Welcome to Georgia. Come on vacation and leave on probation.

AutumnLeaves
10232
Points
AutumnLeaves 03/31/14 - 01:30 pm
1
2
Riding to work this morning,

Riding to work this morning, blonde woman drove up behind me while combing her hair with both hands off the steering wheel, bouncing around like water drops on a hot greased skillet and jerked to a stop inches behind my bumper while I was waiting for green at the stop light, I kept an eye on her as I traveled she kept a safe distance after that, but she was bouncing all over the place in the car, still messing with her hair, singing, and her car kept drifting over the sold yellow line, thankfully there was no oncoming traffic, (only one lane each side). As she proceeded north onto Walton Way extension, two motorcycle officers merged onto it from Walton Way, I PRAYED they would take note of her behavior and inattentive driving and pull her over, since I was going the other way at that point. Praying she didn't hit someone.

specsta
7126
Points
specsta 03/31/14 - 02:14 pm
3
0
Officer Friendly

"Importance is placed on making contact and correcting
behaviors than fines and fees."

I almost snorted my milk through my nose while laughing at this one.

Sure thing. The nice officer will ask us to be more careful. Now about that house in Montana with the ocean view that I'm selling...

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 03/31/14 - 02:16 pm
4
2
I can't help but wonder how
Unpublished

I can't help but wonder how miserable someone must be to live in a state that they hate so. I wonder why they don't move to one of those "enlightened, free thinking" states. On a side note, those states are financially destitute as well.......coincidence?

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 03/31/14 - 02:18 pm
3
1
" Oh, ya unless the money is
Unpublished

" Oh, ya unless the money is for compassionate service like medical care, then they will tell the feds to get lost. "

I assume you are talking about the states that are refusing to be bullied by the feds to expand medicaid? You DO realize that this is NOT federal money, don't you? It is state money that the feds are trying to force the states to spend. You probably didn't know that.

GiantsAllDay
10463
Points
GiantsAllDay 03/31/14 - 02:34 pm
0
2
yep, pond life--just like the

yep, pond life--just like the feds made Georgia treat all people the same back in the 1960's.
And be careful about your comments about what I do and do not know.....

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 03/31/14 - 02:35 pm
3
0
" And when a cop pulls me
Unpublished

" And when a cop pulls me over I get it out of my trunk and hand it to him and I ask him to identify to me which section of the code he is accusing me of violating."

I'm going to have to throw a flag on that. It's getting pretty deep in here.

http://gifrific.gifrific.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Ron-B...

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 03/31/14 - 02:33 pm
3
0
"yep, pond life--just like
Unpublished

"yep, pond life--just like the feds made Georgia treat all people the same back in the 1960's"

Equal rights is one thing. Forcing a state to spend money it doesn't have is completely different.

GiantsAllDay
10463
Points
GiantsAllDay 03/31/14 - 02:36 pm
0
2
MLK didn't like the state he

MLK didn't like the state he lived in. But he stuck around.. And so do I.

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 03/31/14 - 02:43 pm
2
0
I don't recall talking about
Unpublished

I don't recall MLK ever talking about how great it was somewhere else though. (A stretch to compare yourself to MKL by the way) And I also don't recall saying you should be kicked out. I just wonder why you stay. And neither the profanity nor the hyperbole is necessary.

itsanotherday1
48148
Points
itsanotherday1 03/31/14 - 02:38 pm
4
0
GAD

Why do you think it is OK for the Feds, with an entitled person at their side, to knock on my door, pull out their gun, and force me to pay for that person's medical care?

GiantsAllDay
10463
Points
GiantsAllDay 03/31/14 - 02:43 pm
0
2
IAD, if you would read my

IAD, if you would read my posts you would see that my opinion is that Obama Care is screwed up! Those fools in Washington DC and those fools in Atlanta are messing with us!

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 03/31/14 - 02:45 pm
4
0
You think the ACA is screwed
Unpublished

You think the ACA is screwed up, yet you think GA is wrong to refuse the unfunded expansion of medicaid? I don't follow the logic.

GiantsAllDay
10463
Points
GiantsAllDay 03/31/14 - 02:47 pm
0
2
I grew up in northern

I grew up in northern California, I went to a nice school in the bay area...I got a job at Westinghouse and put in 30 years there at SRS. Now I have a lot of time on my hands to read newspapers... People in Augusta think I am a [filtered word]--well that's OK--I just want to make this little corner of the world a nicer place to live..

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 03/31/14 - 02:51 pm
3
0
Refusing to spend money that
Unpublished

Refusing to let the feds force you to spend money that you don't have, therefore not becoming financially broke, like California, would be one way of making this corner of the world a little nicer. Keeping a civil tongue is another way of making it a little nicer.

Back to Top

Top headlines

MCG student, class buy kids' books for Ferguson library

Three weeks after the Missouri grand jury indictment verdict, Ashee Nicole Sharer created a Ferguson wish list on BarnesAndNoble.com, urging classmates to purchase a book for the Ferguson ...
Search Augusta jobs