GROVETOWN, Ga. (WJBF) – A new Georgia state lawmaker put on a law enforcement hat to help serve her district better. Columbia County voters just sent Jodi Lott to Atlanta to make some changes under the dome. She represents District 122 in the House of Representatives, which sits inside Columbia County. Law enforcement is one of the groups on her list to understand better and she told me she has a new level of respect for what they do.
“I can be a better advocate for your job,” Rep. Lott told troopers during a brief meeting. House District 117 Rep. Lee Anderson joined her during the meeting.
Rep. Lott, though, became a girl in blue for a few hours.
Trooper First Class Baron Pernell let our news camera in his cruiser with Lott riding shotgun.
“We’re going to go out and patrol on I-20,” he announced.
Despite negative media images, he showed policing is tough.
“Speed enforcement. Traffic crashes,” he said are just some of the things GSP does.
And their work can be confusing sometimes. Even I didn’t know the jurisdictional power of GSP.
“People think we are designated to the highway, but we have statewide jurisdictions,” he explained.
Rep. Lott asked several questions that would help her understand how to advocate on behalf of GSP in Atlanta.
She asked, “Are you connected to the Columbia County Sheriffs Office and do you know what their calls are when they’re going out?”
Trooper First Class Pernell replied, “Yes. We have a portable radio. We can switch over to their channel. And let them know we’re inside their county and if they need any assistance.”
Once we arrived on I-20, we parked on the shoulder. There, cars could be tracked speeding from an antenna on the trunk.
One car was clocked going 79mph in a 55mph zone. And in a hurry Trooper Pernell took off.
Then another speeder was stopped, but not everyone gets a ticket.
“I would educate the driver on why I stopped them on the violation. It’s not always about writing citations, he said adding that sometimes it happens when his printer isn’t working.
The education? Slow down. Pay attention to speed signs. Rep. Lott also wanted to know how the CSRA can avoid a tragedy like the ones that have been going on across the country.
Trooper Pernell told her with his hands, “This is what will kill you. The first thing we want to see is your hands.”
The two discussed ways Lott’s teenager and others can safely communicate during a traffic stop.
“I need to make sure that the registration is somewhere between the seats rather than have it in the glove box where there also could be a weapon. So, put that in a better place. Visor?”
“Yes, put it in the visor,” he responded.
Other stops included a vehicle that had a dark window tint and a driver not wearing a seat belt. Another driver exiting the Interstate had a brake light that was out. On that stop, Rep. Lott began to understand just how challenging police work can be.
“I have a great appreciation for what they do. I am looking at his car he pulled over. I have absolutely no idea who is in the vehicle. I can’t tell if there’s more than one person. I can’t tell what race they are. I have no way to identify what he is looking at right now,” she said while watching the traffic stop from her seat.
Lott told me she has a lot of information to ponder and she’s not sure what she will do with it all yet.
I had the rare opportunity to sit down with her and five troopers afterwards. They expressed to me that they are hurt by the images of their profession they see in media because they believe they have a good heart, it’s just hard for others to see it.