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January 16, 2014

GSP not just road regulators

MILLEDGEVILLE — Let it be said the Georgia State Patrol does more than write tickets.

Also, citizens should know troopers at Milledgeville’s Post 33 have strong Baldwin County ties.

Six of the nine troopers assigned to the post are from Baldwin County with all three supervisors being local products.

Sgt. MacKay Bloodworth gave the Baldwin County Commissioners a different, personal introduction to the law enforcement body in last Tuesday’s county work session.

“The three of us (supervisors) are really doing some good things in the community. We wanted y’all to put a name with a face,” he said. “If we can’t do anything better than anybody else, we can be nicer and more professional. That’s our goal.”

Post 33 covers Baldwin, Jones, Hancock and Washington counties.

The local GSP agency is one of five posts in Troop E overseeing the Interstate 20 corridor from Atlanta to Augusta.

Bloodworth broke down Baldwin County traffic stats compared to other counties in Post 33’s scope last Tuesday.

“We are far outweighing the crashes we investigate in all three other counties combined,” he said.

In 2013, GSP investigated 541 crashes in Baldwin.

The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office calls GSP on “almost 100 percent” of its crashes, according to Bloodworth.

Post Commander Sgt. 1st Class Darrell Dunn said that doesn’t mean the BCSO isn’t responding first.

“They call us because they’ve got so many more things to do than work crashes,” Dunn said. “That frees those deputies up to do the job you are paying them for. It enables both agencies to be more efficient.”

Troopers made 141 DUI arrests and 5,545 total vehicle stops in Baldwin County last year. Bloodworth said stats show 55 percent of all tickets written in 2013 came from Baldwin as well.

Commissioner Henry Craig, District 4, said the county traffic numbers are startling.

Dunn reminded the commissioners that Baldwin is by far the largest county the post looks after. A major “high crash corridor” doesn’t help the numbers.

“I can pretty much sum it up in one term … [U.S. Highway] 441,” Dunn said. “There is a lot more congested traffic and concentration here. It’s not that y’all are worse drivers.”

Many Georgians may not realize all troopers are available for immediate activation in the case of a missing person, prison escape, riot, manhunt, or natural disaster. GSP officials are also trained in civil disorder or riot control tactics.

“We are pretty heavily resourced. There may not be many of us here, but we have a lot of friends we can call to come help,” Bloodworth said.

The Milledgeville post was built in 1971 housing administration, office and kitchen space through two-stories.

An old driving track is used for special event parking and as a helicopter-landing zone for dignitaries.

Statewide GSP fields specialty units that include SWAT, a dive team that’s the largest mobile group in Georgia and a 15-helicopter aviation unit.

Troopers train for advanced scenarios as well.

The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) program uses dynamic, scenario-based courses to train state and local law enforcement on how to effectively and safely respond to active shooter events.

Post 33 hosted ALERRT two-day courses at Central State Hospital last fall.

“Central State has been very good to us letting us use their facilities to train. It’s an active shooter program that every trooper in the state will have gone through by Wednesday,” Bloodworth said.

Adding to the list troopers also train in crisis intervention and child seat safety.

The Department of Public Safety 2013 Christmas Toys for Tots campaign collected 51,266 toys and $34,266. Post 33’s Troop E group added 2,360 toys and $2,606 to those totals.

Community in engagement means a lot to the GSP.

“The state patrol has evolved so much from just being an agency that investigates crashes and stops cars,” Bloodworth said. “We aren’t a state police agency, but we have a lot of the same functions. If you see us patrolling a city or walking through a school, that’s what it’s about.”

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