Sheriff’s traffic team aims at lowering crashes

The sheriff's office has established a traffic division in hopes of cutting down on issues like driving while impaired, speeding and careless driving. (CCSO photo)
The sheriff's office has established a traffic division in hopes of cutting down on issues like driving while impaired, speeding and careless driving. (CCSO photo)

Aggressive drivers in Columbus County might have a surprise the next time the see blue lights in the rear view – rather than a trooper, they might meet a sheriff’s deputy.

Sheriff Jody Greene Wednesday announced a new Traffic Unit with the agency. Deputies in Mustangs will focus on all traffic violations as well as working closely with the Heavy Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) in saturation patrols and investigations.

Sheriff Jody Greene
Sheriff Jody Greene

The program is funded through a Governor’s Highway Safety Program grant.

The county’s high number of impaired driving cases, lack of seatbelt use and speed-related crashes and fatalities helped the county get the grant award, Greene said.

“Columbus County was ranked the lowest for seatbelt use compared to the surrounding 15 counties of the state, at only 82.1 percent of use,” Greene said in a press release. “Many of these crash investigations have shown speed to be a contributing factor.”

The team will not investigate traffic crashes, Greene said.

“The Highway Patrol will still handle those calls,” he explained.

Deputies are often dispatched to traffic complaints ranging from drag racing to ATVs being driven on public roads. The county must respond if dispatched, Greene explained. 

“Our patrol deputies are responsible for answering all calls for service, including traffic complaints, even though the North Carolina Highway Patrol handles all vehicle crashes and enforces all traffic violations,” he said. “This unit will be an addition to our county, relieving our patrol deputies from having to respond to traffic calls when they are needed for other calls in our jurisdiction.”

Greene has a unique perspective on the new Traffic Team – he left the Highway Patrol to run for Columbus County Sheriff. Greene has also emphasized extra driving training and traffic enforcement skills for deputies. Even though road work is not their primary duty, there are times a deputy is dispatched to traffic calls, or is the nearest available officer with any department.

“It has been said that an elected sheriff should not write tickets to citizens of the county,” Greene said. “There should never be any politics involved in a program that will save lives.

‘We will enforce all traffic violations.”

Special emphasis will be placed on the ongoing problem of texting and driving, Greene said.

“Studies have shown texting and driving is equal to driving while impaired,” he said. 

“We are dedicated to serving our county and our citizens. This program is another example of the sheriff’s office having a commitment to saving lives.

“Please obey all laws on our roadways. We want our loved ones to make it home to us safely.”

Deputy Tavon Pierce, Greene, Chief Depuity Aaron Herring, and Deputy Tyler Reeves.
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