High School football is back.
And with all the pageantry and fun can come an unfortunate side effect: traffic.
Col. Jeff Strickland of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office said the office puts a lot of preparation into making football season run as smoothly as possible.
“Depending on the game, there will be four to 10 deputy sheriffs working security, which includes parking and traffic, at any high school event,” Strickland said. “Football draws very large crowds.”
Each high school’s school resource officer plans security and additional deputies are paid for by the school system.
Strickland said when teams have out of county opponents, there tends to be less traffic and fewer deputies are needed for security. But for big rivalry games that draw lots of local fans from both teams, things can get more hectic.
How well a team does also has implications for traffic.
“With the success of the individual team, it often increases the attendance at the games,” Strickland said. “We monitor that with the our deputies along with the athletic directors and principals at each school to ensure we have an adequate number of officers to provide security.”
Strickland said some schools are able to accommodate crowds better than others, but things usually clear up after kickoff.
“There’s always heavy congestion at the start and at the very end of the game,” Strickland said. “Normally within a short amount of time we get the traffic cleared up.”
The sheriff’s office monitors other potential issues at games.
“We also gather intelligence all year long, particularly as we approach a ball game, we gain intelligence info about any gang activity. Our gang task force responds accordingly and attends the games as well,” Strickland said. “Fortunately we have not had any incidents from gangs.”
Lt. Carol Martin of the Gainesville Police Department said Gainesville High School’s season opener against Buford High School will likely be a popular event.
“It should be pretty busy ...,” Martin said. “The school resource officers and other officers will assist with security at the game.
“People just need to be patient in that area and assume there will be more cars and pedestrian traffic in that area and they should use extra caution.”