Forty-five citations written at traffic checkpoint

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 29, 2004

WINTON – You know your night is going well as a law enforcement officer when illegal drugs apparently fall right into your hands.

That’s what reportedly occurred here last week when a combined effort by area law enforcement officials resulted in various charges during an Impaired Driving Checkpoint set-up on the Hertford County side of the Chowan River bridge on US 13/158.

Included among the charges filed during the four-hour checkpoint was one against a Virginia man who, after consenting to a search of his person, had two ounces of marijuana fall out of his pants leg and right into the hands of Hertford County lawmen.

Captain Tim Lassiter, Commander of the newly created Hertford County Drug Task Force, said he and Hertford County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Pearce were conducting a search of 41-year-old Alan Michael Moore of Virginia Beach when the marijuana fell out of the man’s pants.

Lassiter said the driver of the vehicle in which Moore was a passenger was asked to pull off the road at the checking station due to vehicle displaying an expired tag and registration.

&uot;(Hertford County Sheriff’s) Lt. Mike Stephenson was one of the officers on the roadway performing the vehicle-by-vehicle check when he noticed the expired tags,&uot; said Lassiter. &uot;As he approached the driver to speak to him about the tags, he noticed a paper towel in the vehicle’s ashtray that appeared to contain a green, leafy substance.&uot;

Lassiter continued, &uot;At that point, Lt. Stephenson asked for consent to search the driver, his passenger and the vehicle. Deputy Pearce and myself conducted the search of the passenger, Mr. Moore, and while we were performing the search, the marijuana fell out of his pants onto the ground.&uot;

Moore was charged with possession with intent to sale and deliver marijuana. He was jailed under a $3,500 secured bond.

As a whole, the traffic checkpoint – part of a grant received two years ago by the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office from the Governor’s Highway Safety Commission – was a huge success, according to Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Cofield. He serves the Director of Hertford County STEP (Sheriff’s Traffic Enforcement Program).

&uot;It’s taken about a year or so, but I truly feel that we’re now seeing an impact made by the STEP program,&uot; said Dep. Cofield. &uot;We’re out on the roads on a constant basis, enforcing traffic laws in an ongoing effort to decrease the number of motor vehicle crashes. We’re also keeping a close watch out for DWI motorists as well as enforcing the seat belt and child passenger restraint laws.&uot;

On site at last week’s checkpoint was the BATMobile – a fully equipped RV that officers can use to write and file citations as well as conduct breathalyzer tests. The mobile unit also comes equipped with an outdoor lighting system, making it safer for the officers on the roadway.

Two Hertford County Magistrates were on duty inside the BATMobile.

Deputy Cofield reported that 45 citations were written during the four-hour checkpoint. Five were charged with DWI while 10 others were arrested for drug violations – mostly marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession.

Four motor vehicle operators were charged with DWLR (Driving While License are Revoked). Nineteen others face minor charges for an assortment of traffic violations. Two were charged with criminal violations.

The good news was that only one motorist was cited for not wearing a seat belt. Four other drivers were issued tickets for not properly restraining their child passengers.

All motorists were warned of the traffic stop as signs were posted in both directions, each 450 feet from the checking station.

Joining the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office at the traffic checkpoint were law enforcement officers with the Gates County Sheriff’s Office and Probation Unit, Ahoskie Police Department, Murfreesboro Police Department, Winton Police Department and the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

&uot;All totaled, we had about 30 officers at the scene,&uot; said Cofield. &uot;Because of their efforts, the night was a big success. I’d like to personally thank all the officers involved.&uot;