Photos by Elaine Rackley
Clayton County Police conducted a roadblock at the intersection of Old South Drive and Fielder Road near Westminster Estates.
JONESBORO — “Good morning ma’am, can I see your driver’s license please,” said Clayton County Police Sgt. S. Maleete as he approached the driver’s car window. Maleete checked to make sure the woman’s driver’s license was valid, then walked around her car and checked her tag.
“Okay, y’all have a safe holiday,” he added.
“Operation Safe Holiday” started Monday and is scheduled to continue throughout the holiday season, according to officials.
Officers with the Clayton County Police Strategic Methods Against Street Harms unit and teams of patrolmen make-up the force for the special operation. Lt. Scott Stubbs is the commander of this SMASH unit and is scheduled to brief the special teams daily as they change roadblock locations.
Tuesday, Maleete and several other officers conducted an “Operation Safe Holiday” roadblock at the intersection of Old South Drive and Fielder Road near Westminster Estates in Jonesboro. Another roadblock was held simultaneously nearby at the intersection of Conkle Road and Elliott Road.
A couple of men were arrested at each roadblock within an hour of starting the operation, according to Stubbs.
Officer R. Nelson arrested a man driving a Eunice Construction van without a driver’s license. G. Alvarez’ van was impounded and he was immediately taken to the Clayton County and jail. Alvarez was apprehended at the Old South Drive and Fielder Road roadblock.
Fabian Riley was taken into custody after he turned around near the Conkle Road and Elliott Road roadblock.
A homeowner reportely told police Riley was picking up scrap metal at his home. As Riley was leaving the house the homeowner’s wife beckoned for him to return. Officer G. King spotted Riley turning around on Danver Court.
“He was driving on a suspended license and he has outstanding warrants in Jonesboro and Forest Park,” Stubbs said. Riley was handcuffed and taken to the Clayton County jail.
A police helicopter flew over both scenes as officers in the air and on the ground watched for people who were turning around to avoid the police detail.
Stubbs noticed a female driver in a black jeep who pulled into a driveway just before the roadblock intersection, but she never got out of the car, he said.
“I asked the homeowner were they expecting anyone,” Stubbs said. “They told me no. Then I asked did they know the driver. They said no,” he added.
When the lieutenant questioned the driver, he said she told him she was there to pick up someone at the house.
“I checked her driver’s license and it was valid, but she was ticketed for having an expired tag,” Stubbs said. He added her tag had recently expired in late November.
Stubbs was equipped with a Rapid ID device, he said, it can give police all of the information they need at the press of a fingertip. That is if the person has ever been arrested before, he added.
The police operation includes using roadblocks, patrolling high crime areas and responding to burglaries in progress calls.
The Clayton County SMASH unit was formed in November 2011. There are 10 officers that are members of the specialized unit. The officers wear a vest that weighs approximately 30 to 40 pounds during raids, said the SMASH commander.
“They worked out once a week together,” Stubbs said. “They are also required to have an exercise routine they do on their own time, to stay physically fit. I need my officers to complete the assignments without feeling fatigue.”
“Operation Safe Holiday” is scheduled to continue during the holidays with patrols at various businesses in the county including shopping centers, he added.