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The Halifax County Sheriff’s Office is implementing a new unit which will help enforce traffic and hopefully save lives, Sheriff Wes Tripp said today.

Creation of the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program comes after a review of traffic statistics in Halifax County, Tripp said. “Halifax County has an estimated population of 54,173. It is alarming that Halifax County is ranked 43rd out of 100 counties in the state for traffic related fatalities, 38th in speed related deaths and 35th in unrestrained deaths.”

The creation of the program also coincides with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol’s continual trooper shortage in the county over the past three years. “The lack of trained law enforcement officers throughout Halifax County has put a strain on some of the essential law enforcement functions, such as traffic enforcement,” the sheriff said.

According to NCSHP First Sergeant Wesley Crissman, 50 percent of traffic deaths in Halifax County were due to failure to use the seatbelt and/or proper child restraint.

With that, Tripp said he is introducing STEP. “There is more we can do to serve and protect those traveling our roadways in Halifax County. Our continual vision throughout our law enforcement career has ultimately been our love for people and the safety of the public.”

The program seeks to continue to educate the public through community-oriented policing plus adding positive traffic enforcement as a whole. “We will train, equip and deploy a team of four as a Selective Traffic Enforcement Program.”

The duties of the four-deputy team will be to educate the public on driving safety, enforce traffic laws, deter criminal activity and see a reduction in personal injury and property damage.

“The focus will be traffic enforcement with the efforts directed to save lives,” the sheriff said.

Halifax County has several major highways running through its boundaries including Interstate 95, North Carolina highways 4, 48, 125, 481, 561, 903 and US highways 158 and 301. “Our goals and objectives are to assist in the reduction of traffic related deaths.”

This new division has been assigned to Captain Anzell Harris,who will also continue his narcotics work.

Lieutenant Emerson Carroll will be the supervisor. “Emerson Carroll is a seasoned law enforcement veteran and brings knowledge and expertise to this position. He will do a fine job as a supervisor of this unit,” the sheriff said.

The other team members are deputies Jerry Shoemaker, Michael Bishop and Jake Pignanello. “I anticipate nothing but success from this group.”

Harris will report directly to Tripp.

The road runner logo seen in the gallery will be emblazoned on team members’ patrol cars.