'Summer HEAT' very busy in Clayton County

By Ed Brock

Like some other Clayton County drivers, Tiffany Washington didn't even know the "100 Days of Summer HEAT" traffic enforcement program had been going on for the past three months.

She didn't notice any more officers than usual, Washington said.

"But they're out there all the time," Washington said.

The Summer HEAT program runs in conjunction with other statewide traffic enforcement programs like "Click It Or Ticket" and "Operation Zero Tolerance" sponsored by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. Local agencies, including the Clayton County Police Department, performed saturation patrols and road checks throughout the summer in a show of force aimed at discouraging unsafe drivers.

"For us locally it was a very busy 100 Days of Summer Heat," said Clayton County Police Capt. Tom Israel.

From May 23 to Sept. 5 the officers in Israel's Traffic Enforcement Unit and the Highway Enforcement against Aggressive Traffic (HEAT) Unit for which the program is named issued 2,113 speeding tickets. They made 256 DUI arrests and wrote 363 seatbelt violation citations. They stopped 71 people for reckless driving, 305 people for driving on suspended licenses and 168 people for being uninsured drivers.

They also issued 5,964 other charges.

For Israel, this year's Summer HEAT program was successful in that the county's fatalities were lower than expectations. Also, state wide there were only 13 fatalities over the Labor Day weekend instead of the 19 fatalities that were predicted.

"That's what it's all about, reducing fatalities and reducing injuries," Israel said.

Statewide numbers for the program won't be available until October, said GOHS spokesman Jim Schuler.

"It takes a while to compile," Schuler said.

Connie Fulbright of Stockbridge said she didn't notice any extra officers on the streets and interstates of the county.

"No more than usual," Fulbright said.

Tim Hudgins also didn't see a difference in the number of officers, but he did know about the Summer HEAT program.

"I like the idea," Hudgins said.

Israel said drivers like Hudgins and Fulbright may not have noticed the extra work because, like Washington said, they're always out in force.

"And we will continue to be out there," Israel said.