Saturday May 25th, 2024 4:18AM

Hall County and Gainesville law enforcement receive $500K for new patrol units

In response to 71 traffic fatalities in just over two years in the Hall County/Gainesville area, the Governor's Office of Highway Safety has issued a nearly $500,000 grant to the Hall County Sheriff's Office and Gainesville Police Department as part of its Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic (H.E.A.T.) program.

"We believe that this will result in reduced fatalities and safer roads in Hall County," said Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, at a press conference Thursday at the Hall County Sheriff's Office.

The grant will pay for three new fully-equipped H.E.A.T. patrol vehicles, two for Hall County and one for Gainesville, and pay the salaries and benefits of three new traffic enforcement officers for the next three years.

"What a lot of people forget," Gainesville Police Chief Carol Martin said about officers who respond to fatal traffic accidents. "Is that when these officers go home, they carry it with them and for everyone they go to it, that's another image in their mind that they carry on for the rest of their lives. And having to go tell the families that someone has passed on and having to live with that.

"A lot of us have friends and family who have been in traffic accidents and so we can relate. We're trying to make it easier for everybody."

This is the first time Gainesville has received a H.E.A.T grant, Hall County received one back in 2007, and this will be the only the second joint county/city H.E.A.T. unit to be issued (Douglas/Coffee County).

The cars are expected to be put into service within the next three months, as Hall County Sergeant Todd Casper says they are in the process of ordering all the equipment.

The patrol cars will be dark blue in color with H.E.A.T. written out on the side with either Hall County Sheriff's Office or Gainesville Police Department written under that.

There are 16 H.E.A.T. units issued throughout the state as far south as Valdosta, and Blackwood wanted to emphasize that the service of these new patrol units is not about increased revenue, it is about saving lives.

"We look forward to improved number in terms of injuries and fatalities," Blackwood said. "We will strive to make Hall County, and all who use the roads here, as safe as possible."

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: hall county sheriff's office, Gainesville Police Department, Governor's Office of Highway Safety, Harris Blackwood, money, Gainesville Police, Carol Martin, grant, grant money
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