Local law enforcement ready for holiday

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 2, 2008

State and local law enforcement agencies will be making theirpresence known on the highways this New Year’s to make sure thatmotorists comply with the law during this most-festive ofoccasions.

Sgt. Rusty Boyd of the Mississippi Highway Patrol (MHP) saidtroopers will hit the highways in force before, during and slightlyafter the Jan. 1 holiday.

“We’ll have units on every major stretch of highway in thisdistrict,” Boyd said of the nine-county area. “All of our troopersare working on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.”

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The large number of troopers on duty for the New Year’s holidaywill deploy in line patrols. In line patrols, units are assignedspecific stretches of highway for a set amount of time, usually twoor more hours, Boyd said. The line patrol areas will be selectedrandomly throughout the holidays and accompanied by driver’slicense checkpoints.

In order to meet the manpower needs of the widespreadpatrolling, Boyd said MHP will use many “callbacks,” troopers whoserotating day off will be canceled. While it may mean longer weeksfor some patrolmen, Boyd said it was an effective tactic.

“It works,” he said. “We did the same thing over the Christmasholidays, and we didn’t have any fatalities in the district.”

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said his department wouldalso “call up the reserves” to make sure the new year is ushered insafely.

“We plan to be out in full force,” he said. “We’ll be patrollingthe county to monitor the holiday traffic and deal with any otherproblems that may arise.”

Like the highway patrol, the sheriff’s department will alsoemploy the use of checkpoints. Rushing said roadblock sites will bechosen at random on high-traffic roads, but the checkpoints mayspring up anywhere, as the department plans on monitoring severaldifferent areas of the county.

The Brookhaven Police Department (BPD) is also preparing toobserve city traffic during the holidays, but chief Pap Hendersonwas mum on exactly what techniques the police would use.

“In a situation like we have, we have to be available to takecalls,” Henderson said.

Henderson’s officers will not be pre-committed to any specifictasks so that the department can preserve its responsiveflexibility. He said checkpoints were a possibility, but he wouldevaluate deploying them as needed.

Henderson also said the department is prepared for the holidayjust like it is prepared for any day of the year and will operatenormally. Manpower is not an issue for BPD.

“We’re not bringing in any extra people because we alwaysoperate with a full roster,” he said.