The state is spending up to $9 million for the first year of the two-year program, which is money well spent.
“The first 29 troopers graduated in late October and are now patrolling in Cobb County,” said Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright about the program, which started Dec. 1 and will grow to a 35-member force. “The partnership also frees up local law enforcement to answer non-traffic related calls.”
The program will be expanded in March and July to include another 35 troopers, who will patrol I-85 in Gwinnett County, plus a five-trooper task force that will concentrate on investigating and reconstructing fatal crashes on the two interstates.
All told the new troopers in Cobb and Gwinnett will focus on keeping traffic flowing during peak times, when most accidents occur, and will be writing tickets as well, Wright said. Fines from the tickets they write will be paid to Cobb and Gwinnett counties, not to the GSP.
Meanwhile, Cobb and Gwinnett police will continue to patrol the interstates in their respective counties as well.
“We’re sharing a radio frequency or two, which is cool, because all they have to do is switch over to talk to us,” said Sgt. Dana Pierce, spokesman for the Cobb Police Department.
“It’s always good any time you see more law enforcement presence and visibility in an area,” he added. “It’s a good thing. Some of us need to be constantly reminded to obey the law. They’re adding a layer of protection for citizens who are doing what they should be doing.”
Yes, and their presence is both welcome and overdue. For too long — and no doubt for political reasons — the GSP seemed to have a disproportionate number of troopers patrolling empty highways in rural Georgia, rather than the traffic-choked, far more dangerous highways in metro Atlanta.
We’re confident their added presence here will translate to safer highways and hopefully slower speeds, and would encourage the state to extend the program beyond the planned two years.