The annual law enforcement vehicle checkpoint event called Hands Across the Border should have been renamed Tuesday to “Hands Across Milgen Road.”
The event, targeting drivers who are violating a number of laws and organized by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, is usually held in the evening hours on one of bridges between Alabama and Georgia.
This year more than 40 law enforcement officials from a dozen agencies in Columbus and west Georgia worked a stretch of Milgen Road near Milgen Court in the afternoon hours.
“Because the time was moved up this year we did not do one of the bridges because of traffic congestion,” Columbus Police Lt. Clyde Dent said. “We decided to move it to another location.”
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Officers made a number of arrests on charges ranging to marijuana possession to driving without a license.
At least one distracted driving citation was handed out when one motorist rolled through the checkpoint while livestreaming from his cellphone on Facebook, police said.
There were also citations issued for everything from no insurance to distracted driving, officers said.
About 4 p.m., an hour after it began and two hours before it the operation was going to conclude, there were 30 cars lined up in either direction of Milgen Road waiting to roll through the checkpoint. Officers were looking at driver’s licenses, registration and proof of insurance.
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety will be conducting these checkpoints in border cities across the state this week. Monday, officers worked Ringgold, Ga., just south of Chattanooga, Tenn.
The checkpoints are designed to bring attention to the consequences of unsafe driving practices, said Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director of Law Enforcement Services Roger L. Hayes.
“This is the most deadly time of the year on Georgia’s highways,” Hayes said of the weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day. “There have been 593 people killed on Georgia’s roads this year. And most of those are not on the interstates. They are happening on the secondary roads and state highways.”
There have been 14 vehicle fatalities so far in Muscogee County.
The annual crackdown comes five days after a Columbus Police operation on Bradley Park Drive in which officers gave 96 tickets, mostly for distratced driving.
“This was not connected to that,” Dent said.