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Officers to help with Black Friday crowd control

POSTED: November 29, 2013 12:18 a.m.

Black Friday boasts lots of sales, but with them come some pushing and shoving.

In anticipation of door-busting sales in the city, officers from the Gainesville Police Department will be on hand to monitor crowds.

“What we do is have officers who have signed up to monitor several of your major department stores — Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target,” said Cpl. Joe Britte, spokesman for the department. “We’ll have officers out there for crowd control, hopefully trying to ease the whole experience of Black Friday.”

The law enforcement presence should bring peace of mind and order to what can be a chaotic day, he said.
“It should be a wonderful shopping experience. It shouldn’t be something you’re terrified of,” Britte said.
One common complaint, he said, has been line-cutting.

“It almost becomes quite adolescent,” he said with a laugh. “Folks are really trying to jockey for position.”
“We’re there to eliminate some of that, say, ‘Hey, look, you’re in line, there’s no saving places for this person and that person. You’re in line, you’re in line for yourself.’”

Police will also keep an eye out for shoplifting, with so many items trading hands.

“There’s so much product that goes in and out of the stores — it’s quite difficult to keep up with,” Britte said.
The holidays also bring more traffic, more distractions and a lot less patience.

“The roadways will be busier than normal,” said Gainesville Police Department’s Cpl. Kevin Holbrook, noting many more people will be traveling closer to home and by car due to the economy.

“With the added holiday stress and roadway distractions,” said Holbrook, it’s easy to forget about safety.”

The Georgia Department of Transportation announced it would suspend construction-related lane closures on interstate highways, major state routes and roadways near major shopping centers through 10 p.m. Sunday.

DOT District 5 spokeswoman Jill Nagel reminded drivers to heed the “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to change lanes or slow down and be prepared to stop when passing stopped law enforcement, emergency vehicles, wreckers and incident management vehicles with flashing lights.

Continuing through Tuesday is Operation Click It or Ticket, Georgia’s two-week, high-visibility seat-belt enforcement program that includes the Georgia State Patrol, officers from the Department of Public Safety’s Motor Carrier Compliance, Gainesville police and other area police departments.

Gainesville police will be running extra patrols this holiday season, Holbrook said.

“The department’s Police Traffic Services Unit will be out looking for aggressive driving, intoxicated drivers, speeders and unrestrained occupants,” Holbrook said.

Georgia state troopers also will be watching for impaired drivers during the upcoming holiday period, said Trooper First Class J.S. Munger of the Gainesville post. Georgia’s Operation Zero Tolerance, targeting impaired drivers through both patrols and sobriety checkpoints, is now underway.

“Each holiday period, more than 300 people are arrested for driving under the influence,” Munger said. “Enjoy the holidays, but also know that if you drive impaired, you will go to jail, and your vehicle will be impounded.”

Holbrook said motorists can report aggressive drivers to Hall County Central Communications at 770-534-5251, or by dialing 911.


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