Officers hit streets with holiday travelers

Published 3:32 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2016

By Melanie Ruberti


Officers hit streets with holiday travelers

LaGRANGE — Just as thousands of motorists hit the roadways traveling to their holiday destinations, so are officers with the LaGrange Police Department.

The department set up two traffic safety checkpoints Wednesday morning around the city: one off Swift Street and the other at the intersection of Morgan Street and Lafayette Parkway.

The latter was primarily to stop drivers from blocking intersections to oncoming traffic.

The safety checkpoint on Swift Street served a dual purpose, according to LPD Sgt. Rogelio Perez, shift supervisor.

“This (checkpoint) is one of the tools we use on ‘feeder streets’ where crime is occurring,” he explained. “We just want to let people know that we are here … and stop criminals from doing the wrong thing. It’s prevention.”

The checkpoint also keeps drivers on their toes.

Each officer asked every motorist for their driver’s license, plus checked to make sure their car tags were up to date. If not, those drivers were asked to pull off the side of the road until a LaGrange police officer could verify the information.

Officers also inquired about suspicious circumstances, such as the woman who was stopped for having no license. Officer Brandon Torrence quickly smelled a strong odor of suspected marijuana emanating from the vehicle. There was also a baby in the car.

“She stated her brother just used her car,” Torrence said. “She believes he had been smoking marijuana … she smelled it too and allegedly got on to him about it.”

The driver was asked to pull over, while LPD Officer Randall Bochette searched her SUV. No drugs were found inside the car.

The woman was issued a warning for driving without her license and was free to go.

Perez said those types of stops are the exception and not the rule.

“It usually takes drivers 10 or 15 seconds to go through a safety checkpoint,” he stated. “We check licenses, tags, seat belts and child restraints. We just want to make sure everyone is safe.”

LaGrange Police officers conduct the traffic safety checkpoints depending on the amount of calls for service coming into the department, Perez said.