Fort Bragg PMO partners with civilian law enforcement at checkpoint
January 27, 2012
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The Fort Bragg Provost Marshal's Office in conjunction with the North Carolina state "Booze It & Lose It" program, conducted a multi-agency, driving while intoxicated checkpoint Jan. 13 and in the early morning hours of Jan. 14. It was a massive effort that partnered Fort Bragg law enforcement with all state agencies that share jurisdiction on N.C. Highway 87 that runs through the northeastern portion of the installation.
There were 79 officers manning both sides of the highway at the county line that divides the North Carolina counties of Cumberland and Harnett to get impaired drivers off the road.
Civilian agencies present for duty were sheriff's deputies from Harnett and Cumberland counties, magistrates from those counties, Cumberland County Probation and Parole, Spring Lake Police Department, N.C. State Highway Patrol, two, state-sponsored mobile testing units, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The Fort Bragg PMO was represented by teams from Traffic Accident Investigation, Criminal Investigation Command, K9, Drug Suppression Team, and Military Police Investigation.
The officers involved issued a total of 97 citations including 5 for DWI. The majority of the other citations issued were for driving with a revoked license, having no operator's license, and expired state inspections.
"This is the largest one we've done as a PMO in about 13 months," said Lt. Col. Mike Johns, Fort Bragg PMO.
Johns detailed how coordination for this checkpoint began in late November and was organized by Sgt. Stephen Fagan TAI noncommissioned officer in charge.
Fagan has five years of experience in the traffic section of the PMO and was quick to point out the reason why they started with so many outside agencies.
"The first thing is the safety of the people of North Carolina to get impaired people off of the roadway," said Fagan, a native of Lubbock, Texas.
That sentiment was echoed by Sgt. 1st Class Ray Carroll, a Clinton, N.C., native and PMO desk sergeant who was also part of the operation.
"It's important because there is a lot of drinking and driving and a lot of Families affected by this. We're out here to protect and to serve the community," said Carroll.
Another display of law enforcement capabilities that night came in the form of the two breath alcohol testing mobile units parked on either side of the highway. Housed in each of the renovated recreational vehicles is a one-stop shop for processing individuals suspected of DWI. The BAT mobiles come equipped with four breath analyzer stations and a miniature courtroom at the front complete with a county magistrate for processing the offenders. Emblazoned with the state program motto, "Booze It & Lose It," the vehicles also act as rolling billboards as they move around the state.
According to North Carolina BAT mobile unit supervisor, Stephen Morgart, the six vehicle fleet operates every weekend of the year in various locations across the state. In existence since 1996, the program generates millions of dollars for various programs across North Carolina.
"Each vehicle, every year, generates about $500,000 in fees and fines," said Morgart.
Morgart, an Army veteran who served with the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, explained where all the money goes.
"That money goes back into school districts, back into our program and to the sheriff's departments who have to house the offenders," he went on to add.
The county magistrate on scene, in the mobile unit, can identify whether the individual brought in to his or her court has been cited for an offense while driving or been involved in the state court system.
"The systems we utilize allow me to see a very broad picture of all of the individual's involvement in the court system," said Jeffrey Luedeke, magistrate of Cumberland County.
"As the judicial official on scene, I make sure they're advised of their rights and afforded due process," added Luedeke.
On the opposite side of the highway, seated in the front of the other mobile unit, was Rhonda Mellott, Harnett County magistrate. She has been involved in many checkpoints in 16 years as a magistrate, but spoke very highly of the efforts of the Fort Bragg PMO.
"Of all the checkpoints, this one is always the biggest and the best," said Mellott.
Women from the Johnson and Harnett county chapter of MADD were also on site to support the officers on duty and offer some sage advice to motorists.
Rebecca Moore, MADD coordinator, whose first cousin was killed by a drunk driver, wants others to do what they can to prevent the same tragedy in their Family.
"Call somebody. Don't get behind the wheel. Don't let somebody get behind the wheel. It's a mistake you can't take back," said Moore.