Officials say make safety a priority during New Year
by Elane Jones
Dec 31, 2012 | 1029 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The New Year’s holiday is a time for celebration with family and friends, but law enforcement officials are urging everyone to make safety a priority during the holiday.

“We always step up our traffic patrols during a holiday period, especially during the New Year’s holiday. We’ll be keeping an eye out for folks who decide to drink and drive,” Jasper Police Lt. Justin Tidwell said. “I know a lot of people enjoy celebrating the New Year with a few drinks, but we want them to do it in a safe manner. Have a designated driver, someone who doesn’t drink, to drive you home so everyone can get home safely.”

The Walker County Sheriff’s Office also has plans to increase patrols as much as possible during the New Year’s holiday weekend in an effort to make the holiday a little safer this year.

“Our calls for service always increase during the holidays and we definitely see an increase in DUI arrests during the holidays as well,” Tirey said. “So we’re staffing up as much as we can, or at least as much as our schedule will allow us to in an effort to make this New Year’s holiday as safe as possible.”

Tirey said the calls the sheriff’s office winds up with during holidays generally include domestic violence and other problems which tend to arise in connection with the use of alcohol.

“We see a definite increase in domestic calls during the holidays, as well as other problems that tend to come up at parties involving alcohol,” Tirey said. “We’re also out there looking for those folks who are driving under the influence as well.”

The Town of Parrish will also increase its police coverage during the New Year holiday in an effort to prevent crimes and keep the holiday safer for everyone.

Alabama’s Integrated State Law Enforcement Task Force also encourages everyone to take special care while celebrating at home, traveling the state’s roadways or enjoying time outdoors, during the rest of the holiday travel period which ends at midnight Wednesday, Jan. 2.

Officers from state-level law enforcement agencies are working together to create a highly visible enforcement presence intended to prevent crimes and violations on Alabama roadways and waterways that lead to deaths and injuries.

The public should expect officers — even in unmarked vehicles — to make enforcement stops.

Another common safety issue for New Year’s is fireworks. It is illegal to possess or shoot fireworks within the city of Jasper; however other cities and areas in unincorporated Walker County do not have those same restrictions.

“I know a lot of folks think it’s legal to buy and shoot fireworks in the city limits of Jasper because of all the fireworks stands around town. But it’s most definitely not legal, and all those fireworks stands are not in the city limits of Jasper,” Tidwell said. “They’re on property that is out in the county, which makes it legal for the folks who run the stands to sell the fireworks to you, but not for you to shoot them if you live inside the city limits.”

Tidwell said it was also illegal, not to mention extremely dangerous, to discharge a firearm in a celebratory manner within the Jasper city limits as well.

“You could kill someone, so use common sense and celebrate in a safe manner this New Year’s Eve,” Tidwell said. “It will be safer and a lot more fun for everyone.”

Alabama’s Integrated State Law Enforcement Task Force also reminds the public to:

•Avoid driving or boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

•Restrict access and closely monitor teens to prevent under-age use of alcoholic beverages.

•Pay attention to speed limits and driving conditions on the road.

•Use seat belts and child restraints in motor vehicles — no matter how short your drive is.

•Pedestrians should be extremely cautious when walking, jogging or running near roadways, especially when it is dark. Increase visibility at night by carrying a flashlight when walking and by wearing reflective clothing to help highlight body movements. Always stop and look left, right and left again before crossing a roadway.

•Obey boating laws on the water.

•Use a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when in boats, particularly if you will be alone. Not only will this keep you afloat, but it also will offer protection against hypothermia.

•Boaters or hunters who plan to use a boat should leave a float plan that includes a description of your boat, where you plan to launch from, where you plan to go and what time to expect you back.