At a time when county departments cannot afford to spend money on anything but necessities, the Newton County Sheriff’s Department has received donations from several people that have enabled them to improve their four-person traffic unit.
The NCSO has received a new motorcycle, bringing the total on the road to two, and various people have donated time and money to make sure the unit is top-notch. Chris Bell, owner of Bell’s Grocery, donated $1,500 to go toward a kennel for the unit’s narcotics K-9, Rin. All the unit’s vehicles have been tinted by Custom Tint and Sound and John Draper donated the supplies and service while Casteel’s Custom Woodwork donated the money for the tint.
“We really appreciate that,” said the unit’s supervisor, who asked to not be identified due to the nature of his work, “and we want to thank them for all they have done.”
The traffic unit focuses on problem areas throughout the county, which has included several stints on Interstate 20.
“The unit has been active for four years and since then, speeders have definitely dropped drastically,” said the supervisor. “When we first started this unit, it wasn’t unusual for a deputy to write a ticket book a day for speeding.”
The cities of Mansfield and Newborn are a focus of the traffic unit as well, due their low posted speeds and a predisposition for drivers to speed in those areas.
“We didn’t realize how big our problem was until we got out there,” said the supervisor. “Our goal is to reduce accidents and the majority of accidents are caused — at least in part — by speeding.”
Another added perk to the county has been a recent increase in drug busts on the interstate. Since 8-year-old Rin, a Belgian Malinois, began working with the unit full-time in the last month, the unit has seized 22 pounds of marijuana, a half kilo of cocaine, 100 tablets of Ecstasy, three vehicles and approximately $3,700 in U.S. currency, all during traffic enforcement.
“We’ve got pretty phenomenal numbers,” said the supervisor. “But it’s not just drugs we’re looking for,” he continued. “It’s criminals, stolen vehicles, wanted people, weapons, counterfeit money and goods — 90 percent of criminals use the interstate.”
NCSO Sheriff Ezell Brown added, “We are looking for any type of criminal element in the county and the unit’s focus is not just going to be the interstate. We're looking for any type of criminal element in the county and the unit's focus is not just going to be the interstate. We have a long stretch of 20 that continues to be under construction, but there are other roads and highways in the county where we have problem with speeders," he continued. "We're just out there enforcing the traffic laws and trying to get people to slow down for the safety of our citizens."
The traffic unit welcomes tips or complaints from concerned citizens which can be left on the NCSO Web site or called in at (678) 625-1400.