Officers focus on traffic violations

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AIKEN --- It's a tale of two departments with one objective -- to stem the number of traffic fatalities in their cities. One has new resources to combat the problem, and the other is seeking help as it struggles with the issue.

The Aiken Department of Public Safety's two new traffic officers are difficult to miss on the road as they patrol the streets in two new black Dodge Chargers, the roofs outfitted with flashing lights and the sides of the cars emblazoned with the department's logo. Cpl. Chris Carter and Officer Jason Griffin started last month. They are the only officers in the department whose sole responsibilities are traffic enforcement and education.

"Basically, my job and Officer Griffin's job is to try to reduce fatalities and wrecks in the city of Aiken," Cpl. Carter said. In 2007, there were six traffic fatalities within the city limits -- the highest number ever. "That's unheard of in the city of Aiken."

In response to the rising number of highway fatalities and collisions, the city applied for and received a grant from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. The grant -- $143,484 for the first year -- helps pay for the two officers' salaries, their equipment and training. The city must match 20 percent of the cost.

Cpl. Carter stresses that their goal is not to write more tickets; it's to educate drivers about the dangers of not wearing a seat belt, drinking and driving, and speeding.

The corporal said the response from the public has been positive.

"It's good experience for me to be able to get out in the community and talk to people and show that we're not just ticket writers," he said. "We're trying to enforce and educate at the same time."

Just a few miles from Aiken down U.S. Highway 1, Chief David Paul Smith, of the Burnettown Police Department, applied for the same grant in the hopes of adding traffic officers to the department's two-man operation. He's still waiting to hear something.

"Burnettown is a town that has no tax base, and we survive off of franchise fees," he said. "That's why we only have two full-time officers."

That makes it difficult to juggle case files, accidents, speed prevention and regular patrol duties, especially in an area that has a high number of traffic fatalities. In 2007, 13 of Aiken County's 46 highway fatalities occurred in Chief Smith's jurisdiction, which includes Burnettown and three miles outside the town limits. So far this year, five of the county's seven fatal crashes have occurred in the area.

Chief Smith said he believes the fatality rate in the area can be reduced by aggressively patrolling certain areas, such as U.S. 1 and Sudlow Lake Road.

"I am proposing that plan to the state to try to give me some traffic officers to assist in doing that," he said. "I can only do so much without some more help."

Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or michelle.guffey@augustachronicle.com.

BY THE NUMBERS


Aiken Department of Public Safety traffic officers issued 896 citations in the first month of enforcement:


CITATION TYPE..............NUMBER

Warnings..............264


Speeding..............226


Seat belt violations..............152


Driving under suspension..............27


Child restraint violations..............18


Uninsured vehicles..............12


No driver's license..............6


Drug violations..............5


Driving under the influence..............3


Firearm violation..............1


Other..............128

Source: Aiken Department of Public Safety

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bnanny57cents
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bnanny57cents 03/20/08 - 09:43 am
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Great, two more wannabe

Great, two more wannabe hardcore high school dropouts giving warnings and tickets at their discretion. I know we need police officers, but can't we find a better way to go about "protecting" citizens? These guys have chips on both shoulders, are mad because they got picked on as kids, and now they have a gun and a badge and think vindication is theirs because they have the "authority." The truth is, these guys shouldn't have any "power," they should have the right only to "protect and SERVE" the citizens. Education, you say? Yeah, right, I've never been "educated" by ANY police officer and I don't know anyone who has. Tell these guys to get off their GED high horse and get a life...We should spend the money on fixing roads, or government tax breaks, or healthcare, or social security or any of the other problems much more important than traffic violations.

jack
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jack 03/20/08 - 09:58 am
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branny, evidently you have

branny, evidently you have "met" these officers. Sounds like sour grapes to me.

sjgraci
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sjgraci 03/20/08 - 10:18 am
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The whole state of SC is a

The whole state of SC is a speed trap.

GETACLUE
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GETACLUE 03/20/08 - 10:27 am
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bnanny57cents- most

bnanny57cents- most departments require at least a two year degree to apply, some require a four year degree. Why dont you keep showing your ignorance. Something tells me that you havent contributed one positive thing to society anyway or you wouldnt have such hatred towards police.

bnanny57cents
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bnanny57cents 03/20/08 - 10:44 am
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I've had nothing but bad

I've had nothing but bad experiences with police officers, it's true. I'm sure it's not all their fault, but I'm sure it's not all my fault, either. Think what you want, but I know my experiences and know how I, and others I know, have been treated by police officers. I have no criminal record and only have one speeding ticket. How about you, GETACLUE? As far as contributing to society, I work in heart surgery and save lives daily, does that constiute contribution to society??? What do you do to contribute to society??? My experiences with cops are all in conversation about their knowledge of laws, or lack their of, and the judicial system in general. I am a citizen who actively tries to be educated by the police officers, and they've never wanted to help. As far as 2 and 4 year degrees, this may be the case with the state police or FBI or something, but I know MANY officers who have only GED's and are city cops or sheriff's deputies. I'd like a reference if what you say is true...

iletuknow
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iletuknow 03/20/08 - 11:29 am
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Nothing more than highway

Nothing more than highway parasites taking advantage of other people's misfortune.

YankeeTransplant
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YankeeTransplant 03/20/08 - 11:37 am
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I ended up in a very unsafe

I ended up in a very unsafe situation and the Aiken Public Service Officer that arrived was like a Godsend. I couldn't thank him enough and I so very thankful that they are here in Aiken.

Armywife
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Armywife 03/20/08 - 12:47 pm
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"Nothing more than highway

"Nothing more than highway parasites taking advantage of other people's misfortune."
This statement makes no sense. How are these people who are pulled over and given citations misfortunate if they are breaking the law and being a hazard on the road?

Armywife
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Armywife 03/20/08 - 12:56 pm
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bnanny...Cpl. Carter is a

bnanny...Cpl. Carter is a high school graduate, has a four year college degree and spent time in the U.S. Army. The education part of his job includes him going to schools to talk to students and talking with civic groups about safer driving practices. Don't make sweeping generalizations about people based on your bad experiences. These police officers are out there everyday risking their lives so that you and I can be safe when we're out on the road or just in our homes. If you don't think pulling some one over is dangerous, think again. I had a friend who was pulling someone over on a routine traffic violation. When he approached the driver's side window, the person in the car shot him and left him there to die. Thankfully, he didn't.

bnanny57cents
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bnanny57cents 03/20/08 - 01:16 pm
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What are the requirements to

What are the requirements to become a police officer? That's my biggest question. In order to be a judge and hand out sentences, you have to go to law school, pass bar exams, be elected by the people and continually do a good job. To me, a traffic ticket is just like a sentence. You can try to fight it in court, but you won't win. What if an officer you know personally (and don't get along with) sees you driving and falsifies a report? Maybe he/she claims you made an illegal lane change, ran a stop sign, didn't use your turn signal...to me, what are minor offenses, but surely hold up in court because it's your word against that policeman's. Who do you think will win that battle? If we're going to allow these people to hand out judgements (albeit minor ones) shouldn't there be extensive education? You don't let doctors perform surgery without med school, internships, residencies and fellowships totalling upwards of 15 years. I just wish cops were a little nicer and a little more educated and trained (even paid more, along with teachers). They aren't all like your husband/friend, Armywife...

archie4now
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archie4now 03/20/08 - 04:11 pm
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n/a

archie4now
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archie4now 03/20/08 - 04:11 pm
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Counseling......

Counseling......

archie4now
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archie4now 03/20/08 - 04:13 pm
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counseling....that is.

counseling....that is.

archie4now
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archie4now 03/20/08 - 04:14 pm
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bnanny....you need some

bnanny....you need some serious counseling, and some anger management training. I have been there where these men are and it is no picnic. Maybe you should request a ride-a-long from Chief Frommer, then you would actually see some of the "crap" they have to put up with....

archie4now
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archie4now 03/20/08 - 04:25 pm
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bnanny- obviously you have

bnanny- obviously you have some " ISSUES " that need to be addressed. Maybe some anger management training. I hope that if I ever need Heart Surgery, that you are not on duty that day. Perhaps you could contact Chief Frommer and maybe request a ride-a-long for a couple of hours. I have been where these Fine gentlemen are and it is NO picnic.

rachel1413
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rachel1413 03/20/08 - 04:37 pm
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Cpl. Carter is one of the

Cpl. Carter is one of the nicest people you could ever meet. He is an excellent officer within the city. He works hard every day and risks his life in order to protect us. Don't be so quick to judge people.

iletuknow
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iletuknow 03/20/08 - 04:40 pm
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"other people's misfortune"

"other people's misfortune" is using the fatalities issue to line the town's pockets.

tonytonytony
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tonytonytony 03/20/08 - 05:53 pm
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Bnanny i think you have said

Bnanny i think you have said enough. If the Aiken Department of Public Safety hires a person, you can take it to the bank that they could work for any police department anywhere. I do not work for the department nor do i have a relative that works there. But i respect Chief Frommer and his department 100%. His department like Sheriff Hunts department both put the best men they can on the streets. Do we have the crime most towns the size of Aiken has, not and i will bet the farm we never will. Chief Frommer and Shireff Hunt will make sure of that. As for burnettetown wanting a grant so they can ad to thier speed trap is stupid. Smith when you start hiring real police offices that have been to the academy and have radar trainging, u might get more cars. Two cars are enough for tickets writes. You nor your offices do anything else. Are you counting your car in that 2, i bet not. You do that jethro math huh. For the Aiken Public Safety and Aiken County Sheriffs Department, Dont listen to the whinners on here, The people of Aiken that dont break the law are proud of both departments.

usnvet
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usnvet 03/20/08 - 09:53 pm
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I think Tony has something

I think Tony has something brown and blue on the end of his nose, and it belongs to a cop....

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 03/20/08 - 10:44 pm
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I have read that running red

I have read that running red lights is about the most dangerous thing one does on the road. But in the list above, they did not give out one red light ticket.

carcar892
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carcar892 03/20/08 - 11:28 pm
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Boy oh boy, I would like to

Boy oh boy, I would like to Thank the City of Aiken, and Burnettwon as well as any other officer who is out there putting their life on the line for mine. These men and women are not just writting tickets. For any time I was pulled over, GUESS WHAT....I was in the wrong. Yes, I was in the wrong, being careless and not watching out for your life nor mine... Thank you guys for bring this to my attention. It sure slowed me down. I would not be able to look at myself if I hurt or killed someone due to an accident. Once More.... THANK YOU.... How many others are able to say.... Yes, I was in the wrong? and Yes we Truly need these men and women?

namaste
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namaste 03/20/08 - 11:41 pm
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archie8348-just hit the edit

archie8348-just hit the edit button and fix it-no one would be the wiser. No need to post 2 posts with the correction...

then delete those corrected posts. Just trying to clean up debris...lol.

How'd the party go peeps????? Everyone have a grand ole time?

WW1949
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WW1949 03/20/08 - 11:48 pm
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Branney, you do not have to

Branney, you do not have to be a lawyer to be a judge. However most are abut there have been a few that were not.

tonytonytony
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tonytonytony 03/21/08 - 12:52 am
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Usnvet if you are a navy vet

Usnvet if you are a navy vet as you claim to be. You kissed more hinney than i ever will. Is that sea salt or what on your nose. I am just smart enough To see what we have and thankful that we have the Aiken Department of Public Safety and The Aiken County Sheriffs Departmant. Carcar i understand we deserve a ticket when we speed. But if you are thanking the burnettown rent a cops you must have dreamed they gave you a ticket. If you ever got one of their $247.00 for 12 mhp over you wouldnt be thanking anyone. A ticket and a fine is one thing. But the term highway robbery is all about the 3 speed traps. Burnettetown, Jackson, And New Ellenton. Scroll up and see how many warnings Aiken Department of Public Safety wrote in a month. The three above wont write that many warnings in 5 years together. The city of Aiken and Aiken county dont need your money to live high off the hog like the other three. They have money. Plus they dont pay as well as the above three.

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