12/22/05 — Law enforcement agencies to hold random traffic checkpoints during Christmas weekend

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Law enforcement agencies to hold random traffic checkpoints during Christmas weekend

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on December 22, 2005 1:47 PM

Wayne County authorities say they will hold random traffic checkpoints as needed over the long Christmas holiday weekend.

But Highway Patrol, Goldsboro police and Wayne County sheriff's spokesmen say there will be no big checkpoints involving a large number of officers.

Troopers, officers and deputies, however, will be looking out for impaired motorists, speeders and reckless drivers during the annual statewide "Booze It and Lose It" campaign against drunken drivers.

"We won't be doing anything special," said Highway Patrol Sgt. Kenneth Cooke of the Wayne County district office. "We'll hold random checkpoints on an as-needed basis."

Cooke says the troopers will hold a few saturation patrols but will spend most of their time answering wreck calls because of a lack of manpower.

Three veteran troopers have been promoted to sergeant and reassigned to other locations. Randy Powell was assigned to Elizabeth City in Pasquotank County, Billy Overton was assigned to Lumberton in Robeson County and Robert Thaxton was assigned to the training center in Garner.

A new Wayne County trooper, Jock Smith, has completed his training, and Cooke says he now is on his own.

Maj. M.D. Hopper says police will increase their patrols around shopping centers to insure the safety of Christmas shoppers. He also says patrols would be beefed up along U.S. 70 to make sure travelers are safe and in the neighborhoods to look for suspicious or criminal activity.

Hopper says he expects traffic to pick up between now and Sunday, especially on Dr. M.L. King Jr. Expressway, the U.S. 70 and U.S. 117 bypass, and West Grantham Street, where the new U.S. 117 bypass is being finished.

"We have had some complaints about traffic backups. The DOT is trying to get it done by Christmas," the major said of the state Department of Transportation's new U.S. 117 project. "Most people have been patient, but we have had a few calls."

All sheriff's deputies will work their regular shifts, Maj. Billy Anderson said, during the weekend. He said a few extra deputies may join the patrols. But he said they would not conduct any checkpoints.

Hopper emphasized that drivers need to be patient during the expected increased traffic and look out for their fellow drivers.