An official with the Georgia Department of Public Safety appeared before the Banks County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night to get input on the possibility of locating a state patrol post in the county.
Mark McDonough with the Georgia Department of Public Safety said the state patrol would assist local law enforcement by providing traffic control and accident investigation. Any fines given by the state patrol would go to the law enforcement agency where the citation is issued.
Commissioners Sammy Reece and Charles Turk spoke in support of the effort, while chairman Jimmy Hooper was adamant that he believes the county has other priorities. Commissioner David Duckett said he thought such an expense should be voted on by the citizens before any action is taken. Commissioner Danny Maxwell agreed that citizen input is needed before action is taken.
No vote was taken at the meeting, but the issue was discussed for 30 minutes.
The cost to locate a patrol post in the county would be $1.4 million, which could be dropped to $800,000 if inmate labor is used.
“I don’t think this is a major burning issue,” Hooper said. “I don’t know where it came from. I think there are higher priority ways to spend taxpayer money…It is a priority, but I think there are higher priorities.”
Hooper pointed out other needs in the county, including road improvements, an expansion of the senior center, raises for county employees, recreation department programs and locating a wellness center and convention center in the county.
If a state patrol post locates in the county it would cover Banks, Jackson and Barrow counties. There would be 14 patrol officers assigned to cover the three-county area.
Shawn Wilson of the Banks County Sheriff’s Office stated, “We always need extra man power. It doesn’t take a lot to deplete our resources.”
Commissioner Reece pointed out that the state patrol worked 607 wrecks in the county in 2014. In some cases, he said it took as long as 45 minutes for a state patrol officer to arrive at the accident to investigate. He added that if a patrol unit is in the county, troopers can respond quicker.
Hooper asked about whether this could be addressed by adding more sheriff’s office deputies. Turk pointed out that the cost of this would be at least $150,000 in salary and benefits, with more money needed to provide vehicles and equipment.