Officers want to see safe holiday

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; With holidays comes beefed up law enforcement, Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell said.

&8220;We&8217;ll definitely have extra patrols around the parish from Friday afternoon through the night of Tuesday, July 4,&8221; he said.

The Fourth of July weekend celebration kicks off Saturday in Concordia Parish with the 14th annual flotilla on Lake St. John, holiday parties and fireworks. Maxwell said the sheriff&8217;s office will intensify all patrols.

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On area lakes CPSO boats will monitor those operating boats and jet skis, watching primarily for safety violations, excessive speed or alcohol consumption, Maxwell said.

Nearly one in five Americans fail to regularly wear their seat belts when driving or riding in a motor vehicle, according to a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Young males, pickup truck drivers and their passengers were named least likely to buckle up. Nighttime drivers, and people who live in rural areas were also included in the group.

&8220;We&8217;re cautioning everyone to be safe on both the highways and the lakes this weekend,&8221; he said. &8220;One accident is too many. There will probably be people boating, driving and swimming all weekend, so we all have to watch out for one another and remember that the top safety hazards are speed and alcohol &8212;whether it&8217;s a boat or a truck.&8221;

Under a new Louisiana law, operation of a boat powered with more than a 10 horsepower motor, for those born after Jan. 1, 1988 without completing a boater safety class, is against the law. Proof of course completion is also necessary if operating a vessel.

Also, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 16 to operate a personal watercraft. Boaters who were over the age of 13 on Jan. 1, 2005, can lawfully operate a PWC with an approved boater safety course.

For further information concerning boating or Jet Ski safety, contact the Louisiana Office of Wildlife and Fisheries at 318-757-4571. Boat and Jet Ski registration forms are available there and at Bryan&8217;s Marine and the Miss-Lou Marine.

&8220;Safety belts clearly save lives,&8221; Maxwell said. &8220;Unless you want to risk a ticket, or worse your life, you need to remember to buckle up. Too many people take the attitude that it will never happen to them, but fatal crashes happen every day.&8221;

In Natchez, police will step up patrols, looking for drunk drivers and speeders, Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins said Thursday.

&8220;We try to run more radar,&8221; Mullins said. &8220;We look for people speeding, (running) red lights and stop signs, generally step up patrols.&8221;

Officers will also be on the lookout for people shooting fireworks and guns.

&8220;You cannot shoot fireworks in the city,&8221; Mullins said. &8220;And if someone fires a weapon in the air, if we see it, they will be arrested. They are not going to be warned or ticketed. Firing a gun in the air in the city is illegal, and bullets have enough energy to potentially harm someone.&8221;

In Adams County, the sheriff&8217;s office will be ready in case they are needed, Sheriff Ronny Brown said Thursday.

&8220;On all holidays, we have a few extra people out,&8221; Brown said. &8220;If there&8217;s a problem, we&8217;ll be there.&8221;