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RHPD conducts traffic checkpoint
RHPD checkpoint
The Richmond Hill Police Department and other law enforcement agencies conducted a traffic safety checkpoint on U.S. 17 Friday night. - photo by Photo courtesy of Richmond Hill Police Department

An illegal gun and drugs were among the items seized during a traffic safety checkpoint conducted recently by the Richmond Hill Police Department and other agencies.

The checkpoint was on southbound U.S. 17 at Kroger Drive from 8 to 11 p.m. Friday. The RHPD hosted the monthly meeting of the Southeast Traffic Enforcement Network earlier in the evening. Agencies that participated in the checkpoint included the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, and the Pooler, Port Wentworth and Brooklet police departments.

Lt. Brad Sykes of the RHPD said the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department conducted a checkpoint on northbound U.S. 17 at King’s Ferry at the same time.

“SETEN has monthly meetings that rotate among the departments, so we do checkpoints in each jurisdiction afterward,” Sykes said. “Running an effective checkpoint requires too much manpower for a department to do one on their own.”

Sykes said the primary objective of the checkpoints is to look for safety violations and monitor for drunk driving. He said there were no DUI arrests during the three hours.

“Mostly we find things like people not wearing seatbelts or broken tail lights,” he said. “We ask drivers for their license and registration and find some violations there if people don’t have valid paperwork.”

Sykes added that officers must have “reasonable suspicion” to do a more in-depth search.

“One vehicle had blue lights on the front, which is illegal,” he said. “We smelled burnt marijuana coming from the vehicle and the driver had a gun next to him in plain sight. He also didn’t have a license.”

Sykes said most of the infractions were discovered in the first 15 minutes after the checkpoint was established.

Many drivers are unaware that avoiding a checkpoint is not necessarily illegal.

“If someone is far enough back and they find a safe, legal spot to turn around, that would be OK,” he said. “If you drive over a median like what we have on U.S. 17, for example, then we’re going to have a problem.”

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