The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office has received a $213,636 grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to establish a H.E.A.T (Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic) Unit within the sheriff’s office.
At a Dawson County Board of Commissioners meeting held on Thursday, Sept. 17, Sheriff Jeff Johnson announced that the grant will create a H.E.A.T. Unit in Dawson County for the first time, covering the cost of two new vehicles, the salaries of two new deputies, training, computers, speed detection equipment and other costs.
Johnson said that as the population in Dawson County has grown, the need for a dedicated traffic enforcement unit has grown too.
This unit, he said, would be solely focused on targeting that area of need, with enforcement efforts aimed at reducing local traffic fatalities and stopping DUI drivers, as well as providing safe driving education and warnings to the community.
“Honestly our county is getting to the point where our population and our density, that we are receiving more and more traffic complaints,” Johnson said. “ It’s difficult for our patrol officers to respond and handle a lot of these, trying to balance their other duties. So the good thing about this is, this is their job. They would be coming on duty and working specifically traffic.”
This new unit will not affect Dawson County’s relationship with or reliance on the Georgia State Patrol, he said.
This is a no-match grant, which means that the county will only be responsible for paying for the benefits of the two new deputy positions, approximately $50,000 over the year life of the grant.
“A good example of going after the grants in order to stretch our tax dollars further, appreciate that,” District 2
At the voting session on Thursday, commissioners unanimously voted to approve the grant, also approving the use of $15,000 from the county’s general fund to pay for the two new deputy’s benefits for the remainder of 2020.