Officers promote traffic safety

Published 11:43 am Saturday, September 5, 2009

GASTON — Law enforcement efforts to keep travelers safe this Labor Day weekend began early near the North Carolina and Virginia state border.

On Thursday, a unique partnership between two sheriffs resulted in multiple law enforcement agencies coming together to do what they do best—keep the public safe.

The Northampton County Sheriff’s Office partnered with local law enforcement agencies, including the Brunswick County (Va.) Sheriff’s Office, to hold two check point stations near the North Carolina-Virginia state line on NC 46 near Gaston.

“This is a coordinated effort between Brunswick and Northampton counties along with agencies supported by the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program to come together for a check point,” said Northampton County Sheriff Wardie Vincent.

Approximately 30 officers were involved with the two check stations in an effort called “Border to Border.”

On the North Carolina side of the operation, officers from Rich Square, Jackson, Garysburg, Gaston, and Tarboro Police Departments, Northampton County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol (Troop C District 8) were stationed at the intersection of NC 46 and River Road. Traffic heading east on NC 46 and those using River Road was checked. North Carolina Department of Transportation Weight Division was also on hand to weigh large trucks.

Meanwhile in Virginia, deputies with Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office operated another check station located at the intersection of VA 46 and Drumgoole Road, checking all traffic heading north out of North Carolina.

Sheriff Vincent said the officers stationed at the check points were on the look out for any traffic violations ranging from driving and motor vehicle infractions to DWIs.

Vincent said the coordination of the joint effort started when he met with Brunswick County Sheriff Brian Roberts. He added this is the first time his office has participated in “Border to Border.

According to Sheriff Roberts, “Border to Border” campaign is an effort known in Virginia with law enforcement officials there reaching out to agencies in bordering states. Currently, there are 22 “Border to Border” operations going on in Virginia.

While Roberts noted the positive effects of enforcement, he said by the agencies working together it creates a good relationship.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to create camaraderie and exchange information,” he said.

Tarboro Police Sergeant Bob Cox, Regional Coordinator for the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program, helped to work the check point on the North Carolina side.

Cox said the “Border to Border” campaign coincides with North Carolina’s “Booze It & Lose It” operation, where law enforcement will be cracking down on drinking and driving.

Simultaneously, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol will be targeting speeders and aggressive drivers this weekend.

Last year, there were 1,140 crashes, 582 injuries and 13 fatalities investigated by the Highway Patrol statewide during the holiday period.

Labor Day weekend is also a busy time in Virginia for law enforcement as well.

Brunswick Sheriff’s Captain Todd Cheely, who helped work the Virginia check station, said Labor Day has more deaths related to motor vehicle crashes than any other holiday in the state.

Last year over the four-day holiday period, Virginia saw a total of seven fatalities.

On the North Carolina side, Jackson Police Chief John Young, who also serves as the Northampton County Coordinator for the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, thanked the Piggly Wiggly stores in Gaston and Jackson for providing refreshments for the officers as well as the Lake Gaston Community Center for allowing the officers to set up the checkpoint.