Law enforcement officers from six states participated in an initiative to crack down on impaired drivers and other traffic law violators during the Labor Day weekend in an effort to reduce traffic fatalities.
Nearly 200 officers from Georgia, Alabama and Florida participated in a safety campaign media conference at Bainbridge State College last Tuesday, August 27th, sharing stories about their interaction with drunk drivers and their victims.
The show of force had state troopers, sheriffs and chiefs from the Tri-State area urging the public to adhere to traffic laws. Officers said if they catch violators, those who are impaired would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and their cars taken.
“If we catch you, we will arrest you: no excuses, no exceptions,” said Major Mark Welch of the Florida Highway Patrol. Welch said police teams doing weekend sobriety checkpoints would also utilize undercover officers.
The 22nd annual Hands Across the Border event was kicked off in Columbus, Georgia and wound its way to Savannah, where South Carolina officers joined them. Similar campaigns were held in Alabama, Tennessee, North and South Carolina borders.
“The worst part of our job is giving families a death notice. The Havana Police Department aggressively acts against drunk drivers. If you drink and drive, you will be arrested, go to jail and your car will be taken,” said Havana Chief Tracy Smith.
Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young said he was especially concerned about drunk drivers and people texting while behind the wheel. “We will not tolerate DUIs on our highways,” said Young.
Young said when he took office nine years ago, he began a partnership with the Florida Highway Patrol to reduce fatalities after the county experienced 32 vehicle deaths in one year. “32 lives were lost until we formed this partnership. We are saving lives. The number of deaths dropped to 12, so we knew we were doing something right,” said Sheriff Young.
Gadsden County formed a team for the Labor Day holiday weekend that partygoers who felt impaired could call on officers to drive them home. “With anger comes purpose and courage. We stand between the sheep and the wolves,” said one law enforcement officer.
More than 30 agencies in the tri-state area took part in the Hands Across the Border campaign.