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Deal congratulates State Patrol on national recognition

Special to The Post-Searchlight

Gov. Nathan Deal today congratulated the Georgia State Patrol which this week was named the top state police/ highway patrol agency in the country in the category of 501 to 1,000 sworn officers.

“I extend my most sincere congratulations to Col. Mark McDonough, his predecessor Col. Bill Hitchens and the Georgia State Patrol on this national honor,” Deal said. “I have the great privilege of serving with GSP officers every day and I cannot thank them enough for their loyal and tireless commitment to our state.”

The award was a part of the National Law Enforcement Challenge, sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The award was accepted in Chicago by the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, Col. Mark McDonough.

“The IACP National Law Enforcement Challenge is a prestigious awards program that recognizes the best of the best,” McDonough said. “To be included in the awards recognition is an honor and speaks highly to the dedication of the men and women of the Georgia State Patrol.”

What the State Patrol does

State troopers and other officers with the Georgia State Patrol handle a variety of responsibilities, said GSP Public Information Officer Gordy Wright.

On a daily basis, state troopers investigate auto crashes, enforce the state’s highway laws, aid drivers with disabled vehicles and conduct safety education presentations.

They routinely provide traffic control at special events, such as the annual NASCAR races in Atlanta and the Georgia National Fair in Perry. In the event of a natural disaster or other emergency, state troopers respond—often across many miles—to where help is needed, whether it be searching for victims, directing other emergency vehicles or ensuring motorists’ safety.

The State Patrol also provides resources to local law enforcement agencies, Wright said.

The GSP’s Aviation Support team sends helicopters to help search for escapees and fleeing dangerous criminals, missing persons and even to provide aerial scouting in the event of a natural disaster such as flooding.

The State Patrol has its own SWAT team, which can respond to help resolve critical incidents such as barricaded subjects and hostage situations that may occur; and a Criminal Interdiction Unit that assists other agencies with their drug enforcement programs. The GSP also has a Nighthawks DUI task force and motorcycle unit.

The Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team is comprised of specially trained accident investigators, which assist state troopers and local law enforcement.

About the National Law Enforcement Challenge

The National Law Enforcement Challenge recognizes and awards the best overall traffic safety programs. The NLEC focuses on agencies efforts to enforce laws and educate the public about occupant protection, impaired driving and speeding. The most effective and noteworthy safety programs combine office training, public information and enforcement to reduce crashes and injuries within their jurisdiction.

On a state level, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety administers the Georgia Governor’s Challenge, which follows the criteria of the national competition. In the state competition, individual troopers of the Georgia State Patrol compete for honors, but the entire agency is judged for the national award.