Ringgold’s City Council has been receiving complaints lately about speeding in residential areas, which has prompted discussion about what can be done to slow down motorists.
During the most recent council meeting on Jan. 27, Mayor Nick Millwood addressed some of the complaints that have been continually coming in from residents.
“So, I had put this on the agenda a couple of weeks ago. We get report after report after report from various places throughout the city about speeding in the city,” Millwood said. “Patrolling every street all the time is impossible, so there are a couple of things that we are going to be implementing.”
Millwood said the city has purchased a $2,500 equipment system that will collect data of when and where speeding occurs.
“We are going to be systematically, street after street, especially in the problem areas – we’re going to be getting data and tracking who is speeding and when they’re speeding,” Millwood explained.
Millwood added that there’s also the issue of rules related to where police officers can shoot radar.
“There’s an issue with the way our streets are categorized — we cannot shoot radar in neighborhoods, so basically what we’re told as a city is that we can’t shoot radar on the streets based the speed limit or based on sight distance, and that is infuriating,” Millwood said. “Enforcement is tough.”
The plan right now is for the city and its police department to team up with the Georgia State Patrol to help enforce the speed limits.
“I have learned that Georgia State Patrol can shoot radar in our neighborhoods, so our plan moving forward is that we’re going to be getting them (GSP) data and we’re going to be very specific about this is when the speeding occurred, these days of the week, these times of the day – so, we are going to be partnering with GSP,” Millwood said. “They are very good whenever we say, ‘hey, we’re having these issues’ — they work hand-in-hand with us all the time for a lot of things.”
Millwood says he also plans to get the street classification data so the city can see exactly how streets are categorized and know what needs to be done to better enforce the speeding issues.
“We need to know what would need to happen to let us patrol our streets in a way that is meaningful for our families,” Millwood said. “If I can find answers there, I will. I’m hearing that I might be coming to a dead end there, and that’s the kind of thing that would take action at the state capital in order for cities to be able to patrol their neighborhoods and shoot radar.”
Mayor Pro Tem Sara Clark said officers can still be visible and try to slow down speeders even if they aren’t allowed to shoot radar in neighborhoods.
“If we put this speed check in place and we do it, you can’t necessarily give a speeding ticket with the radar, but you can stop a car and say, ‘you are endangering our citizens on this street’, Clark said. “So you can give warnings and you can stop them.”
Clark suggested that the plan would be to collect the data of when speeding is the most rampant, and then relay that information to police and GSP in order to have them out there during those specific times.
“We can put out that warning that we’re there at a specific time and that we are stopping cars,” Clark said. “I think that is also meaningful for people that don’t even realize how fast they’re going. I say put them (officers) near a stop sign and if they run a stop sign, that is something we can enforce.”
While speeding in certain areas of the city have been an ongoing issue, Bluff View subdivision’s speeding issues ignited the discussion a couple of weeks ago when a residential security video was forwarded to police showing a car rocketing past the home at a high rate of speed.
Mayor Millwood and other council members have noted that they reside in that community and have seen firsthand how the speed has been a habitual problem.
“I see some of the Bluff View neighbors here (in the audience). I have lived in Bluff View for 20 years and speeding through the neighborhood has been a problem for 20 years,” said council member Rhonda Swaney. “I just want to assure you guys that we are taking it very seriously. It has gotten to the point of being ridiculous.”
Although the city may encounter obstacles while reaching the level of enforcement it wants, Millwood stressed that he and other city officials are highly prioritizing the matter.
“We are implementing a plan and we are being serious about it,” Millwood assured. “I know we don’t necessarily vote on anything ... tonight, but we are starting the process.”