Ball Ground Police Department has been ordered to not use speed radar devices while the state investigates whether it violated the terms of its permits to do so.
Policing agencies apply to the Georgia Department of Public Safety to use speed detection devices, agreeing to certain terms.
A complaint against the department alleges that Ball Ground Police do not have someone on call or on duty to perform policing duties 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to a letter from the Georgia Department of Public Safety dated March 16.
The letter tells Ball Ground police to “cease and desist from operating any speed detection devices within its city limits or on any other roadways.”
Mark Riley, a spokesman for Georgia DPS, confirmed earlier this week the investigation was still active. He did not give an estimate for how long the investigation would take.
Ball Ground Police Chief Bryon Reeves said he always has someone on call, even though there isn’t an on-duty officer 24/7. But, he couldn’t find documentation of the department’s policy, he said, so he and the city’s attorney are working on drafting a memorandum with the sheriff’s office to give to state officials, which would say Ball Ground officers are on-call and include a new on-call schedule for dispatchers.
“The code section they’re citing, all it says in the code section is it’ll be a 24/7 department or on call or on duty,” he said Thursday. “‘Or’...it doesn’t say ‘and.”
“We do have people on call, and I’m on call all the time.”
Reeves said he asked state officials whether they had considered the issue when the police department applied for their radar permit, and was told they don’t look at it “on the front end.”
As far as he knows, the state’s investigation was still active Friday, the police chief said. In the meantime, Reeves said his department will focus on visibility to deter would-be speeders, with things like increased patrols in town.
“Ninety percent of our job is visibility anyway, it deters a lot of stuff if we’re just seen,” he said. “If it gets severe enough that there needs to be citations and stuff issued, (we can) just contact the state patrol and let them come operate it, if they would.”
A new Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office precinct is scheduled to open in the Ball Ground area Tuesday, but it’s not related to the state’s investigation of the city police department, Capt. Jay Baker told the Tribune.
The police chief stressed that the department still has its state permit, even though a cease and desist order is in place.
Currently, there are five police officers in the department, including the chief, Reeves said.
“I figure in the next probably year to year and a half, we should be able to be what I consider full-time,” he said.