Valdosta Daily Times

February 20, 2013

Roadblocks: Stop in the name of the law

The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Anyone attempting to enter or leave Valdosta and Lowndes County this past weekend may have felt like they were caught in a dragnet. Judging from a number of comments sent to The Times, more than a few readers felt like they were caught in a police state.

The roadblocks were part of the Southern Region Traffic Enforcement Network, which is one of 16 regions connected to the Georgia Office of Highway Safety in Atlanta. A SRTEN spokesperson said the GOHS has adopted a policy of “high-visibility traffic enforcement.” Authorities host similar roadblocks in cities around the state.

The Lowndes County roadblocks involved some impressive numbers.

Authorities issued approximately 130 traffic violations, which include nine seat-belt violations, 18 child restraint violations, two window tint infractions, 15 cases of invalid license, 10 suspended license charges, seven driving under the influence arrests, four underage consumption charges, three cases of invalid insurance, two marijuana offenses, two cocaine offenses, six wanted felons arrested, two stolen gun charges, two charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and 57 miscellaneous offenses, according to reports.

To make these Valdosta-Lowndes County citations and arrests, law-enforcement authorities from reportedly more than 40 agencies used 152 patrol cars, a lifeflight helicopter and a Georgia State Patrol helicopter.

The stated idea behind these roadblocks is a noble one. People need to slow down. They need to be aware that other motorists are not legally on the road. They need to be aware of the maintenance of their driving equipment. Being aware may reduce the number of traffic fatalities.

But seeing a large number of police barring the highway can be disconcerting. Some people may assume such a large law-enforcement turnout indicates a massive manhunt, a jail break, a horrible wreck, but likely many motorists were more than a little surprised pulling up to their turn at the stop that the law was interested in checking them.