GLENNVILLE — Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill Thursday, during the 28th Annual Law Enforcement Appreciation BBQ, that is expected to make law-enforcement officers’ traffic-safety duties easier.
The governor said Senate Bill 100 supports the state’s law enforcement officers by repealing certain provisions for driver’s license suspensions that are not directly related to traffic safety. He signed the bill ceremoniously on a stage surrounded by seven state legislators, including state Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway.
Local and state law-enforcement officers, first responders and elected representatives gathered at Wayne Dasher’s farm Thursday evening for the annual barbecue, which Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes called a called a “vote of confidence” that proves Georgians support their law enforcement officers.
In addition to nearly 2,000 people attending the event, evidence of that support included the bill signing by Deal, who attended along with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Labor Commissioner Mark Butler and U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter and Tom Price.
“(The bill) really does relate to law enforcement in this regard,” Deal said. “Those of you who are responsible for traffic enforcement across the state know many times you’re asked to do things that have absolutely nothing to do with traffic safety. We have utilized the licensing process for driver’s licenses to try to leverage other activities.
“Many times you find someone whose license has been suspended for something that has nothing to do with their driving,” he continued. “You have to take the time and the effort to have those individuals booked and a citation issued.”
Deal said Senate Bill 100, which was sponsored by state Sen. Tyler Harper, R-Ocilla, allows law-enforcement officers to focus on issues related to the safe operation of vehicles on the state’s roads and highways.
Deal told law-enforcement officers he appreciated what they do every day, despite reports of extra scrutiny and second-guessing of officers’ actions in the national news media. Those who second-guess the actions of law-enforcement officers don’t realize many times the decisions they make are split-second decisions, he said.
The governor’s sentiments were appreciated by those who wear the badge, including Sikes and Long County Sheriff Craig Nobles. Nobles said the event was a great way for law-enforcement officers from different agencies and different parts of the state to get together and socialize over a great barbecue supper. He also expressed thanks for the community’s support for an event his office sponsors in Long County, a kids’ fishing event called “Fishing for a Cure.” This year’s event is scheduled for May 16.
“Just look around and you can see the support law enforcement has in Georgia,” Sikes added. “The community has come together for 28 years now. It’s a vote of confidence for what we do. These guys are putting their lives on the line every day. This is a blessing.”
Georgia State Trooper William Bowman echoed Sikes’ comments, saying that the last 18 months have been challenging and difficult for law enforcement officers across the country. Thursday’s event was a way of showing they’re still supported in Georgia.
Carter also expressed his support for law enforcement, first responders and the military, specifically the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart. While noting the participation of soldiers at the event, including Brig. Gen. Jim Blackburn, commander of Task Force Marne, Carter said he hopes Congress is willing to do what is necessary to defend the military from further troop and budget cuts so the Armed Forces can continue to defend this nation.
Dasher said he wanted to thank the more-than 100 volunteers who helped make the barbecue a success, including Wayne County Commissioner Jerry “Shag” Wright, the lead chef.
“Myself and Sheriff (Cecil) Nobles started the event 28 years ago,” Dasher said. “It started with a small fish fry and has grown. Last year, we had over 2,000 guests. It’s an opportune time to show our respect back to our law enforcement, our first responders and our military. There are so many public-service folks out there, and we want to include them all.”
Dasher is the 12th District board member for the Georgia Department of Corrections.