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Barrow traffic unit gets national renown

Special Photo. Accepting a second place award for traffic unit initiatives in Denver this month are Barrow County Capt. Anthony Harris, Sgt. Ryan Sears, Sheriff Jud Smith and deputies Ed Weaver and Cory Almond.

Special Photo. Accepting a second place award for traffic unit initiatives in Denver this month are Barrow County Capt. Anthony Harris, Sgt. Ryan Sears, Sheriff Jud Smith and deputies Ed Weaver and Cory Almond.

WINDER -- A national spotlight shined this month on a specialized traffic unit within the Barrow County Sheriff's Office.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police awarded the Sheriff's Office second place nationally among similar-sized agencies for efforts to protect motorists and heighten safety on streets and highways, officials said.

The association honored the unit Oct. 5 at the 116th Annual IACP Conference and Exposition in Denver. Five representatives from Barrow made the trip.

"Being a part of a traffic enforcement unit doesn't simply mean that we go out and write tickets all day long," said Sheriff's Office Sgt. Ryan Sears, who supervises the unit. "A huge portion of our responsibilities is to educate the young people in our community -- those who are about to start driving."

As such, traffic unit personnel teach the Teenage New Driver program at both Apalachee High School as well as Winder-Barrow High School. Sheriff's Office employees and a Barrow Probate Court Judge target ninth-graders with the program.

A more in-depth program focusing on traffic laws is offered for older students through the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention program, Sears said.

In addition to the educational focus, the traffic unit mostly concerns itself with the enforcement of impaired driving, speeding and the protection of vehicle occupants, officials said.

"I'm very proud of our entire traffic unit for the difficult and dangerous jobs they perform," said Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith in a release. "They're out there to keep all of us safe, and I believe the citizens of Barrow County are fortunate that we have them."