New Year’s Eve has traditionally been a time for celebrating with family and friends, the LaGrange Police Department used safety checkpoints to help ensure that those celebrations did not endanger community members.
Sixteen members of the LaGrange Police Department took part in a vehicle checkpoint operation that moved to various locations throughout the night of Dec. 31st. The operation started at 10 p.m. and ended in the early hours of the new year. Police Sergeants Steve Taylor and Robert Kirby were the leading officers in the operation.
“Each year Chief (Lou) Dekmar assigns two sergeants to supervise and run this operation. People know that we do this every year so it does act as a deterrent to people. People should never be drinking and then get behind a wheel,” Taylor said.
The operation started earlier in the night on Davis Road and Lafayette Parkway with all 16 officers participating at that location. At that time one individual was arrested for DUI. The operation then moved to New Franklin Road, near Walmart. Later in the night the 16 officer operation split into two, with one team stationed on Vernon Street and Vernon Road, and the other team stationed on Vernon Road and Jinkins Street.
At each site, police vehicles were prominently placed both in the middle and on the sides of the areas. Police officers were stationed on either side of the roads to check vehicles in both directions. Besides the two sergeants, Chief Lou Dekmar also spent his time rotating through the various checkpoints.
“We are looking for DUI, seat belt and tag violations and checking driver’s licenses. For out of state vehicles we are also checking for insurance. Besides the officers who are checking the vehicles and speaking with the drivers, we have other officers stationed in police vehicles in case there is an emergency,” Taylor said.
By 3 a.m. on the first day of 2013, the operation’s final arrest count was six.The six arrests included three for DUI, one for driving with an open alcohol container, one for driving with a revoked license and one for a felony probation violation.
Tony Hardy was one of the people who were stopped and questioned at one of the police checkpoints.
“I got stopped on my way home from work. They do this every year and I am really glad to see them doing it, it makes me feel a bit safer on the roads,” Hardy said.
During the entire operation all regularly scheduled officers maintained their normal duties.