By Ed Brock
The cash is flowing for the next round of the statewide Click It or Ticket program and local police departments are planning to make an even bigger stand against unsafe driving.
Forest Park and Jonesboro police departments have received $11,000 grants each to support their participation in the next round of the program scheduled to run from May 19 to June 1 that will once again include road checks for drivers who aren't wearing seatbelts and other traffic law violators.
The Clayton County Police Department is waiting for approval of a $30,000 grant. Each department has slightly different plans for the money.
"We bought some alcohol sensors for the cars, but most of the money is for officer overtime to go out and do the checkpoints and road surveys," said Forest Park police Capt. Roy Hanson.
A road survey essentially consists of putting an out of uniform officer on the side of the road to count the number of people using seatbelts. Forest Park's usage rate was about 84 percent, Hanson said.
"I think that's because our guys are so aggressive about enforcing the law," Hanson said.
Jonesboro's usage rate is up to 90 percent, Maj. Freeman Poole said.
"It was higher than I expected," Poole said.
The higher usage rate is good news because, Poole said, "we know that it will save lives."
But seatbelt use isn't the only goal of Click It or Ticket. Jonesboro officers like Ken Alexander have undergone hours of training on the proper installation and use of child safety restraints.
"But I found you really need it," Alexander said. "Since I've been to that training I've noticed that 90 percent of the people I've stopped didn't have them in right."
With equipment like the Intoxilyzer field sobriety tester and some basic training, the officers will be looking to stop the most dangerous drivers on the road.
"Drinking or drugs, it doesn't make a difference," Poole said. "Whatever you're on, we're going to get you. Any kind of impaired driver we're going to try to get them off the road."
Clayton County's traffic enforcement officers in groups like the HEAT unit and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit will be holding road checks in various locations, Capt. Tom Israel said.
"This May mobilization is probably going to be the most intense mobilization ever," Israel said. "We want 100 percent compliance."
Officers from each agency said the mobilization is about saving lives, not collecting the $15 to $20 fine from seatbelt violations.
Georgia law requires front seat passengers in most vehicles to wear seatbelts, the violation of which is a misdemeanor. People over 18 who are passengers in pickup trucks, motorcycles, motor driven cycles or off-road vehicles are exempted from the law.