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Trooper: State Patrol a community partner

State troopers with the Georgia State Patrol aim to be partners with local government in the areas they serve, the assistant commander of the Colquitt, Ga., post told Decatur County Commissioners Tuesday morning.

Cpl. Kyle Duke of the Georgia State Patrol addressed the board at the request of Commissioner Russell Smith. Duke said he was there to let county commissioners know that they and state troopers are interdependent on each other. State troopers live in the same communities they work in and are willing to assist local law enforcement agencies on a variety of tasks when called upon, Duke said.

State troopers from the GSP’s Colquitt post, which was formerly based in Donalsonville, are charged with working in Decatur, Miller, Seminole and Early counties, in addition to anywhere in Georgia they are sent to by the state’s governor.

One of the main missions of the State Patrol is to respond to vehicle accidents, both major and minor, at the request of local law enforcement. While they do write a number of citations and warnings for traffic law violations, state troopers do have empathy with people who are dealing with the effect of the economic downturn, and Duke said he believes that is borne out by statistics that show a balance between the number of citations and warnings written.

Decatur County has the highest traffic volume of the four counties covered by the Colquitt GSP post.

From Jan. 1, 2009, through Nov. 10, state troopers wrote 2,735 citations and issued 2,915 warnings in Decatur County, according to Duke. The total citations include 196 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, 37 felony drug arrests, 14 arrests for felony crimes that were not drug-related and 55 arrests for misdemeanor possession of drugs, primarily marijuana and prescription drugs, according to Duke.

In related safety statistics, state troopers have responded to 110 vehicle crashes in Decatur County during 2009, and three people died as a result of those crashes.

Duke said that despite what some may believe, state troopers don’t write citations to make money for the State Patrol or local governments. State troopers are also very concerned with the safety of motorists who travel the state’s highways and enforcing the state’s traffic laws—which set monetary penalties for violations—is one way to discourage people from committing crimes, Duke said.

Other tasks taken on by state troopers include participating in numerous manhunts, high-risk drug busts, aiding stranded motorists, keeping roads safe during poor weather conditions and responding to natural disasters such as tornadoes or other emergencies at the request of the state government.

State troopers are also available to community groups and local governments to give safety presentations, demonstrate the proper installation of child safety seats and conduct vehicle safety inspections.