Quiet New Year#039;s for law enforcement

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 2, 2004

Area law enforcement agencies were pleased to report that Lawrence County rang in the New Year safely and responsibly, for the most part.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office reported a quiet holiday, but the Ironton Police Department said it was kept busy.

&uot;We had a fairly quiet New Year’s,&uot; said Lt. Carl Roark, Ironton post commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. &uot;As far as crashes and traffic safety, it was a success.&uot;

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The Patrol responded to a two-car accident on New Year’s Eve. The crash

occurred on State Route 141 and only resulted in minor injuries. The patrol also arrested four individuals for operating a vehicle under the influence, Roark said.

Overall, the holiday was comparable to other years and possibly better than some.

&uot;I think we were very fortunate not to have any serious injury crashes,&uot; Roark said. &uot;Two years ago, we had a fatal crash. That is not the way you want to start any year or any day.&uot;

The National Center for Statistics and Analysis reported alcohol-related crashes led to 17,419 traffic fatalities in 2002. Statistically, that is 41 percent of the total traffic fatalities recorded last year. In Ohio, 482 people died in 440 alcohol-related crashes in 2002, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

During the holiday period, the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported six fatalities in crashes across the state. Alcohol was only clearly involved in one of the six crashes.

Roark said he thinks that programs such as "You Drink and Drive. You Lose."

and the "What's Holding You Back?" campaign have been successful in reducing the number of fatal and injury related crashes.

&uot;I think we have been successful in convincing people that DUI is a crime and that we will aggressively enforce that, especially during the holidays,&uot; Roark said. &uot;If we can get that to carryover throughout every weekend, we will be even more successful.&uot;

Major Jeff Lawless of the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office said the department responded to a few disorderly conduct calls and other violations, but that overall the holiday went well.

&uot;We had a relatively quiet holiday. Nothing out of the ordinary,&uot; he said. &uot;It was about like a normal night.&uot;

Lawless said he would attribute the success to the educational efforts, the increased presence and the fact that the holiday was not on the weekend.

The past two days was not as quiet for the Ironton Police Department.

&uot;We had a very, very busy night,&uot; Capt. Jerry Leach said. &uot;It was mostly bar fights.&uot;

The department responded to nine calls for fights from 12:45 a.m. to 2:48 a.m. New Year’s Day. Three arrests were made. The department was called to the JAB Lounge seven times in less than an hour and a half, Leach said.

&uot;We just need more personnel,&uot; he said. &uot;If you have 15 people involved in an altercation, it is difficult to determine who started it and make arrests.&uot;