06/03/04 — Click it checkpoint nabs 60 drivers, one chased

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Click it checkpoint nabs 60 drivers, one chased

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on June 3, 2004 1:59 PM

More than 60 drivers received citations for mostly minor traffic offenses Wednesday during a two-hour checkpoint in Goldsboro.

One driver tried to evade the checkpoint at New Hope Road and Shelley Drive and eventually was captured in a vacant apartment.

The checkpoint was part of the two-week, statewide "Click It or Ticket" campaign to encourage use of seat belts and child safety seats.

Officials in the Governor's Highway Safety Program had hoped to increase the average use of seat belts from 86 to 90 percent. About 37 percent of those killed in 2003 traffic collisions -- 440 of 1,200 -- did not wear safety belts, according to state figures.

"I think it went real well," Goldsboro police Capt. John Biggins said of the checkpoint. He coordinated the event with officers from three other departments.

Three Mount Olive police officers, one Walnut Creek police officer and 1st Sgt. T.C. McLeod of the Wayne County district of the Highway Patrol assisted 21 Goldsboro police officers.

The driver who fled, John Croom, 22, of Bizzell Court, was pursued by Goldsboro and Mount Olive officers east on New Hope Road, then on North Berkeley Boulevard and finally on Central Heights Road. He jumped from the car and ran into a vacant apartment on Randall Lane.

Croom was charged with felony fleeing to elude arrest, reckless driving and resisting arrest. He was placed in the Wayne County Jail in lieu of an $8,000 secured bond.

Another man driving a commercial truck was charged with not having a valid license and an expired license plate.

Since the campaign started in 1993 -- and was copied by many other states -- fatal injuries have been reduced by 23 percent, according to the N.C. Highway Safety Research Center.

Last year a checkpoint was held at the same place. Biggins said Wednesday, "We ended up with about the same amount of citations but last year we had a drug arrest."

Officers issued citations for 12 seat-belt violations and two child-safety seat violations. One person was charged with driving while his license was revoked, and four were charged with not having an operator's license. Fifty-one other charges were filed, including expired inspection stickers, license plates and driver's licenses.

One misdemeanor criminal charge also was lodged.

Many off-duty Goldsboro police officers from A-shift and the Housing Authority unit volunteered to work the checkpoint to free on-duty officers.

The statewide campaign continues through Sunday. Maj. Mike Hopper said Goldsboro police will conduct more random checkpoints during the period.

Maj. Ralph Schroeder said Mount Olive police have held checkpoints every day, except Sunday, resulting in numerous citations, especially for no operator's license.

Fremont, Pikeville and Walnut Creek police also have conducted checkpoints or random patrols during the first week of the two-week campaign.

Municipal police and the Highway Patrol have combined to hold 27 checkpoints and 21 saturation and random patrols and file 708 charges during the first week, including 187 for seat-belt violations, nine for child-seat violations and 12 for driving while impaired.

Goldsboro police lodged 420 charges during the week. They wrote 143 seat-belt and three child-restraint citations while holding 17 checkpoints and 13 saturation or random patrols last week. They also charged eight people with driving while impaired, 159 for speeding, 26 for driving while their license was revoked and 66 for other violations.

Police also charged 14 people with drug violations and one with another criminal offense. They recovered one stolen vehicle and arrested one fugitive.