At the November commissioner’s meeting, the county amended their 2012 budget to reflect a $143,000 state grant received by the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office.
This grant, the HEAT Unit grant provided by the Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic, is meant to combat death and injures cause by impaired driving.
According to Pickens County Sheriff Donnie Craig, who spoke at the Thursday, Nov. 29 meeting, the county has begun to implement the program and is already seeing positive results.
The $143,000, Craig said, will pay for two fully equipped patrol vehicles and will also cover salaries of deputies driving the vehicles.
The sheriff said these deputies will be charged with patrolling secondary roads in the county. Craig noted that Pickens County has one of the highest rates of fatalities and serious injury rates of surrounding counties.
“We’re not just going to get out here and work 515,” he said. “We’re going to be working the backroads, out in Hill City, Cove Road and the roads out in the community, not just in the state routes, which we already have the state patrol working.”
Craig said in the first four days of the program, one of the department’s HEAT officers issued 70 citations, several of which involved illicit substances or drunk driving.
“Of those I think we had three or four DUIs as well as several drug arrests,” he said.
For more information about the program, and to find out which other counties in the state have HEAT officers, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org/heat.html.