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Law officers see routine holiday week

Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop M took part in a six-dayholiday safety blitz that boosted safety on the roads for theThanksgiving holiday and saw only three fatalities statewide, asopposed to last year’s five statewide.

Troop M Public Affairs Officer Sgt. Rusty Boyd said MHPofficials looked at patterns statewide, establishing guidelines forwhat days people generally travel for the Thanksgiving holidays,and tried to build their traffic crackdown around when and wherethe roads were most traveled. But much of the area knowledge alsolies with the officers who were working the roads.

“We do that constantly, each man in his own area knows where andwhen people will be traveling,” he said. “Around the holidays weknow which days are the heaviest traveled, and the main arteries oftravel are Interstate 55, and Highways 61, 84, and 98. Those arethe ones we paid the most attention to.”

In Troop M’s jurisdiction there were 23 accidents. Three werealcohol-related and there was one fatal wreck in Amite County.

Troopers from Troop M issued a total of 1,549 citations over theholiday. There were 21 DUIs and three drug arrests, as well as onefelony arrest, and one for public drunk. Ten citations were issuedfor seat belt violations and six for child restraintviolations.

Statewide, troopers wrote 12,893 citations, including 146 DUIsand 12 felony arrests. There were 25 drug arrests, 293 seatbeltviolations, and 102 child restraint violations.

Troopers worked 247 collisions in all of Mississippi.

On the local front, Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing saidthings were quiet for a holiday week.

“It was just the normal calls, and it was quiet for the mostpart,” he said.

Rushing said he did have a few extra men on the road during theweek due to the increased traffic from people coming into town forThanksgiving.

“We had a few extra out, but it was nothing like the HighwayPatrol’s,” he said. “We just had them out checking and helpingcatch calls.”

County officers worked six accidents, including one withinjuries. There were a few drivers’ license checkpoints in thecounty during the weekend, though the statistics are not yetcomplete, Rushing said.

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson also reported nothing outof the ordinary for the holiday week, in spite of the fact that itwas the first major holiday his department has worked theannexation area.

“It was quiet, considering the holiday,” he said. “It was aboutas busy as previous years, but we just had more area to cover. Thatmade it a little more busy with minor complaints and things, but itwas nothing we were unprepared for or that we weren’t able tohandle.”

Meanwhile, Boyd said MHP had federal grants to help keep thehighways safe by staffing extra troopers for the holiday week. Somedays as many as 10 extra officers were on the highways in Troop M’snine-county territory.

“Through the grants they’re able to pay a man overtime to workon his days off; those were incorporated into this week also,” hesaid. “We had some days that nobody took off, but there were somedays everyone didn’t work, because we’re not going to make themwork the whole week without a break.”

Troop M ran extra details and line patrols through the week,with all of its troopers working extra hours.

“Yesterday we had two shifts, with 16 men per shift, so therewere 32 working yesterday, and that was pretty much just like everyday of the holiday,” Boyd said Monday.

There were several checkpoints district-wide, Boyd said. Inaddition, this year’s effort was extended in length from just thethree days surrounding Thanksgiving to the entire week of Nov.19-25. Boyd said indicators are the public awareness of thecrackdown kept many people’s attention on the road.

“Anytime you drive a section of highway and see two or threetroopers it’s got to keep it on your mind on safety and how youdrive,” he said.