Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie hasn’t wasted any time putting the newest Effingham County Sheriff’s Office unit into action.
For the last few years, Sheriff McDuffie has said he’s wanted to put a full-time traffic enforcement unit onto Effingham’s busy roads. He now has four deputies dedicated to the role of traffic out on the county’s highways and byways.
The four deputies, who are operating in two teams of two, are on patrol in the brown ECSO patrol cars. They’re in new Dodge Chargers, rather than the traditional Ford Crown Victorias of the ECSO — Ford is scheduled to end production of the police interceptor Crown Victorias late next year, meaning many law enforcement agencies will have to opt for new patrol cruisers as they retire old cars and replace them.
And frankly, Sheriff McDuffie’s traffic enforcement unit couldn’t start rolling at a better time. The holidays are about to start, meaning Effingham’s already crowded roads are going to be even more treacherous.
Of 10 people booked into the Effingham County Jail in a 48-hour period, eight were brought in traffic violations. That itself isn’t the notable statistic — it’s the number of drivers who discovered to be under the influence.
Those arrests could have been made by the road deputies already on patrol before the addition of the traffic enforcement unit. But it should be noted that now there’s an even stronger emphasis on curbing the number of drivers who shouldn’t be behind the wheel and who make it dangerous for other unsuspecting motorists.
It’s not just those who have either had to much to drink or have ingested an illicit substance who make driving riskier. The sheriff tells the story of returning from a visit to another county to take a look at their jail and administrative complex. Traveling back on the interstate, the sheriff and the others who were party of the expedition observed another car weaving wildly on the road. They wondered if the driver was texting while driving.
The driver was instead operating a laptop computer while attempting to steer his vehicle. Even on a dark, lonely stretch of interstate pavement, that driver is a danger to himself and those around him.
Sheriff McDuffie also wants the traffic enforcement unit to help the schools stress the importance of safe driving to those just learning their way behind the wheel.
He doesn’t want the county to be known as a speed trap. His goal is to make it safer for county residents and visitors to ride the 479.5 square miles of the county.
It’s a worthy goal and one we hope he can achieve, and we’re glad to see him taking the steps to make it that way.