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Police crack down on speeding drivers

A lot of motorists appear to be in a big hurry in Thomson these days.

Police officers are seeing more motorists disobeying the posted speed limits in school zones.

As a result, a crackdown has been launched by the Thomson Police Department.

Officers have issued dozens of speeding citations to motorists in recent months.

Police concentrated on speeding motorists in front of R.L. Norris Elementary School on Monday afternoon.

Within an hour, officers had stopped 27 vehicles and issued that many citations to drivers -- all of whom were clocked by laser radar going faster than the 25 mph posted school zone speed limit.

"We are taking speeding very seriously in our school zones because we don't want to see any child hurt or killed," Thomson Police Chief Joseph D. Nelson said. "It really touched my heart when that child was struck and later died earlier this year at a bus stop near Thomson."

Chief Nelson was referring to Cassius Walker, a third-grade student at Thomson Elementary School, who was struck by a pickup truck while preparing to board a school bus in front of his home on the Mesena Road in October. Cassius remained in critical condition for several days at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital in Augusta before he died Oct. 27.

"I don't ever want that to happen to another child, which is one of the main reasons my officers are cracking down on speeding motorists in school zones throughout Thomson," Chief Nelson told The McDuffie Mirror . "I also don't want to see any harm come to the crossing guard that I have working at Norris Elementary."

Just last week, an elderly woman driving too fast through that school zone narrowly missed hitting Jean Franklin, who has worked as a school crossing guard for the city police department for seven years.

"If I hadn't moved out of the way just at the right time, I would have been hit," Ms. Franklin said.

On Monday, additional police officers were brought in for the second phase of Operation School Zone.

One of the motorists stopped and issued a speeding citation on Monday was going 47 mph, Thomson Police Sgt. 1st Class Scott Whittle said.

"They need to familiarize themselves with the speed limit in the school zones. It's 25 mph. Period," he said.

Anybody caught exceeding that speed limit within a school zone or elsewhere on city streets in Thomson will receive a ticket, Sgt. Marcus Murray said.

The average ticket for exceeding the speed limit within a school zone in Thomson is now $122, Chief Nelson said.

Beginning Jan. 1, that fine will double across the state.

"That means the $122 fine now in place will become $244," Chief Nelson said.

Web posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010

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