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MHP: Fewer troopers mean fewer citations

Mississippi Highway Patrol officials say a “dramatic” decreasein Thanksgiving-weekend citations is not due to increased awarenessof traffic laws by the motoring public.

“It’s not because there’s less traffic, and it’s not becausethere are less violations of the law,” said Staff Sgt. RodCrawford, public affairs officer for MHP’s Troop M.

For various reasons, there simply are not as many troopers on theroads enforcing the laws, Crawford said.

Crawford said some troopers have been away on military callup inIraq, while others are helping on the coast following HurricaneKatrina.

At any given time, Crawford said, 20 percent of Troop M’s 19-memberenforcement division is on the coast. He said that leaves around adozen troopers for the district’s nine-county area.

Crawford also mentioned the number of retiring troopers and thosewho leave to pursue other occupations. Each year, he said, 20 to 25troopers statewide leave under those circumstances.

“And we’re not having a patrol school every year to replace them,”Crawford said.

In activity for the nine-county area, Crawford said there were 362total citations issued over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, whichran from 6 p.m. Wednesday to midnight Sunday.

Those included 277 hazardous violations, 65 nonhazardousinfractions, nine DUIs, two drug arrests, two public drunks, threeseat-belt violations and four child-restraint violations. Therewere 15 motor vehicle accidents, including one in Walthall Countythat resulted in two fatalities and four others that hadinjuries.

In 2004, district troopers wrote 883 citations. There were 18wrecks during the holiday period last year, including two fataliesand seven injuries.

“There is a dramatic reduction in the grand total number ofcitations between 2005 and 2004,” Crawford said.

Statewide for the 2005 holiday, there were 3,452 tickets and 192total accident, which resulted in eight fatalities and 47 injuries.During the 2004 holiday period, there were 7,962 tickets and 209accidents, whcih resulted in five fatalities and 54 injuries.