WINDER - A Winder police officer has been elected to serve as coordinator of the Piedmont Area Traffic Enforcement Network.
Cpl. Tommy Ross, 33, will take over in October the seat being vacated by SPO Tim Scott of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department. Ross served as PATEN's assistant coordinator for the past 11⁄2 years.
PATEN encompasses Barrow, Clarke, Elbert, Lincoln, Madison, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Taliferro and Wilkes counties. It was created by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety and is one of 15 regional Traffic Enforcement Networks serving Georgia's 159 counties.
The regional networks are designed to enhance traffic enforcement by giving law enforcement officers a venue for networking and training. Officers meet for dinner once a month and hear guest speakers that have included court judges, prosecutors, legislators, MADD representatives and Public Service Commission officials.
"Officers work with other agencies to enforce safety belt laws, lower speeding and DUI arrests and traffic fatalities," said Lt. Dennis Dorsey, spokesman for the Winder Police Department.
Dorsey added that Winder police have had no traffic fatalities so far this year but had three from August to December 2006.
Ross first got involved with PATEN in 2001.
"I was impressed with how so many agencies came to the monthly meetings and help other agencies," Ross said. "This will work hand in hand with me being a H.E.A.T. (Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic) officer because they are both related to all the major traffic laws - impaired, aggressive and reckless driving, speeding and seat belt laws."
For as long as Ross serves as PATEN's coordinator, Winder police will house the BAT (Breath Alcohol Testing) trailer. The BAT is outfitted with a generator that runs lights, a breathalyzer and two holding cells that can each hold two prisoners. It serves as a mobile testing unit and jail and is especially useful in rural locations, Dorsey said.