Speed­ers, be­ware: Ox­ford po­lice force at full strength

The Covington News - - LOCAL - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

Driv­ers speed­ing through Ox­ford – or per­form­ing other il­le­gal driv­ing acts – are more likely to be pulled over in 2013, with the city’s po­lice depart­ment back at full strength.

Ox­ford po­lice of­fi­cers have handed out 267 speed­ing tick­ets through June of 2013, com­pared with 200 dur­ing all of 2012, and other driv­ing ci­ta­tions, in­clud­ing seat­belt vi­o­la­tions and ci­ta­tions for driv­ing on a sus­pended or re­voked li­cense, are also trend­ing up sig­nif­i­cantly.

Po­lice Chief Dave Harvey said the in­crease isn’t the re­sult of any strat­egy but is due to the ad­di­tion of a fourth full-time of­fi­cer (in­clud­ing the chief) and over­all more ac­tive of­fi­cers.

“We have a full depart­ment now, and of­fi­cers who want to get out and patrol and be seen and do their job,” Harvey said. “We have some­body who likes to get out there and work and be proac­tive and try to de­ter crime be­fore it hap­pens. We have more vis­i­bil­ity.”

Ac­cord­ing to City Man­ager Bob Schwartz, the aver­age speed cited on the 27 tick­ets writ­ten in the city’s 35 mph zones this year was 54 mph, with a high of 59 mph. In the 25 mph zone, the city had 18 tick­ets with an aver­age speed of 46.2 mph and a high of 56 mph. (Harvey said the high­est speed he’s seen cited in his time with the depart­ment is a 68 mph driver in the 35 mph zone of Ga. High­way 81.)

The in­crease in ci­ta­tions – and a slight in­crease in the pace of ar­rests – has been ac­com­pa­nied by a de­cline in calls for ser­vice. Through June 30, there have been 512 calls for ser­vice, com­pared with 1,170 in 2012.

“Any­time you have more vis­i­bil­ity and more en­force­ment, that makes for a de­crease in calls, be­cause it’s more of a de­ter­rent – that’s how I look at it,” Harvey said.

The po­lice depart­ment also has been pa­trolling later in the evening, up un­til 2 a.m. When the staff was short­handed, the city’s of­fi­cers gen­er­ally stopped pa­trolling around 11 p.m. or midnight, when the New­ton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice would take over.

“When you have more vis­i­bil­ity, peo­ple go some­where else (to com­mit crimes),” Harvey said. “We have more of­fi­cers on the evening watch, so one can be pa­trolling the city while the other one is en­forc­ing traf­fic laws.”

The city hired a fourth of­fi­cer in Novem­ber 2012, but then lost a dif­fer­ent of­fi­cer at the end of Jan­uary. An­other of­fi­cer was sworn in March 30.

Harvey said the two new hires – Eric Al­mond and Dave Ste­wart – along with of­fi­cer James Pil­grim have been com­mit­ted to ac­tively pa­trolling and en­forc­ing the law.

The of­fi­cers also are giv­ing out plenty of warn­ings, as they’ve is­sued 122 so far, in line with 2012’s 256 warn­ings.

The po­lice depart­ment’s 2013-2014 bud­get is $317,263, ac­cord­ing to Harvey.

To view more crime stats, find this story on Cov­News. com.

Sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

OX­ford po­lice of­fi­cers are hand­ing out more speed­ing tick­ets and other traf­fic ci­ta­tions.

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