Law enforcement upping patrols

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 27, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Memorial Day weekend patrols are always heavy, police say, but officers will be even more present in Mississippi this year.

Click it or ticket, that&8217;s the message Mississippi is sending over TVs and radio for holiday and summer travelers. A new seat belt law goes into effect today, making not wearing a seat belt a primary offense.

Currently it is a secondary, meaning officers can&8217;t pull drivers over for seat belt alone. Today officers can legally pull over persons driving vehicles not wearing the seat belt and give the driver and the passenger a ticket, Natchez Police Department Chief Mike Mullins said.

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&8220;On holidays we always increase traffic enforcement,&8221; Mullins said.

Louisiana and Mississippi both are working together to prevent holiday, as well as summer tragedies by sending out a message to all types of motorists.

&8220;We&8217;ll have extra officers on duty all weekend who will be especially watching for drinking and driving along with drinking and boating,&8221; Concordia Parish&8217;s Sheriff Randy Maxwell said. &8220;We&8217;re making an effort to avoid holiday and summertime tragedies.&8221;

Alcohol will also not be tolerated.

&8220;Boating accidents can be just as deadly as those out on the highway and a major factor is alcohol,&8221; Maxwell said.

Local and state law enforcement officers, in an effort to prevent speeders and motorists who are not buckled up, will beef up manpower on the highways and lakes,&8221; Maxwell said.

&8220;Alcohol affects your balance, vision, judgment and coordination,&8221; he said. While having an enjoyable holiday is promoted, boating and driving safety is essential, Maxwell said. Official&8217;s advice to travelers &8212; buckle up, pay attention to speeding and have a good holiday and summer.

Patrols will also be up on Louisiana&8217;s state highways, Trooper Jeff Covington said.

&8220;Memorial Day is the first major holiday of this summer season,&8221; a Troop E safety release said. &8220;School is letting out and families are beginning their vacations. To help this weekend to be a safe one, the Louisiana State Police and other law enforcement agencies are joining together in a media and enforcement campaign to increase seat belt usage among the states motorists. Failure to comply with the Louisiana seat belt law could result in motorists being ticketed for not buckling up. More importantly &8212; seat belts save lives.&8221;

The Troop E area has had 14 fatal crashes this year and 15 deaths.