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ECSU student faces drug charges

GATESVILLE – Last month, Gates County Sheriff Edward Webb requested approval of a new ordinance that would allow his deputies to write traffic citations to speeders in the county.

That proposal has already reaped more than originally projected.

Earlier this week, Webb said two of his deputies, Sgt. Johnnie Wiggins and Officer Richard Haynes, were on routine patrol along U.S. 158 when the sergeant noticed a vehicle traveling at an excessive rate of speed. Wiggins clocked the vehicle at 70 mph in a 55 mph speed zone.

They stopped the driver, Reginald Bazemore Jr. of Governor’s Road in Bertie County. Wiggins reported that when he went to the car, which was a rental, he detected the odor of marijuana emanating from the window.

That’s when Wiggins put his partner, K-9 Cal, to work to sniff out the illegal substance. Trained and certified especially for the purpose of &uot;alerting&uot; on illegal contraband drugs and weapons, Cal quickly stood to alert the officers that he had located the substance in question.

&uot;As Cal went around it, he alerted on the center console and the rear passenger door,&uot; said Sheriff Webb. &uot;As a result of Cal’s actions, the officers confiscated 167 grams of marijuana and at the rear corner panel of the vehicle, Sgt. Wiggins found five grams of crack cocaine, a set of scales and $164 in currency packaged in with the drugs.&uot;

Webb said Bazemore, a 22-year old student at Elizabeth City State University, was charged with possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, felonious possession of cocaine (attempting to sell and deliver), and felonious possession of marijuana (attempt to sell and deliver), possession of the scales and manufacturing a Schedule 6 Controlled Substance.

&uot;This is an instance where the radar, purchased with a state grant, was a crime fighting tool and it was used by officers trained and certified in using the equipment,&uot; said Sheriff Webb. &uot;This is a significant amount of drugs seized after someone exceeded the speed limit. Excessive speed gave the deputies probable cause to stop Mr. Bazemore’s vehicle and both deputies are trained on drug interdiction. They smelled the marijuana and the suspect was a local man, driving a rental car, and that told the officers he had no particular place to go. All that made them suspicious and they called in K-9 Cal. That officer then did his job.&uot;

Sheriff Webb added that this traffic stop is not the only one that has taken place since the deputies have been operating with the radar equipment.

&uot;My Chief Deputy, Billy Spruill, issued a citation to a woman doing 85mph in the 55 mph zone on U.S. 158,&uot; said the Sheriff. &uot;This is a common occurrence and we see this type of speed all the time in Gates County. We’ve stopped schoolteachers running late for school, prison guards, other police officers and even a few ministers. Nobody is exempt. We all speed at times and sometimes we’ll give only a warning, but we are here to enforce the law and we will be stopping speeders.&uot;

Webb also noted that while the deputies will be watching for speeders, it would be during the course of other activities. He assures that at no time will a deputy be &uot;sitting just to try to catch somebody speeding.&uot;