HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Department announced a “new low” in felony drug arrests, and the suspected reason for the decline is surprising.
According to Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith, word of his department’s vigilance has spread, and individuals possessing illicit substances may be traveling an alternate route to evade city law enforcement.
During Hiawassee City Council’s regular session on Tuesday, April 3, Chief Smith recalled an incident involving a drug-related arrest. Smith stated that the suspect readily admitted that he should have avoided Hiawassee, specifically mentioning Highway 288 as the passage the driver divulged should have been chosen instead.
Highway 288, also known as Sunnyside Road, winds south of Hiawassee’s perimeter, beyond the city police department’s jurisdiction.
In comparison to the first three months of the previous year, 2018 has witnessed a noticeable decrease in the number of drug arrests conducted by Hiawassee Police Department.
From January until March of 2017, nine misdemeanor drug arrests and 17 felony drug arrests took place. The current year-to-date statistics show only two misdemeanor drug arrests, along with eight felony drug charges.
“There was another person that let us look through their phone after we arrested them, giving us consent to search their device,” Chief Smith disclosed in an interview with FetchYourNews (FYN). “Someone had messaged them, saying something along the lines of, ‘Why did you go through Hiawassee?'”
A patrol officer with the Hiawassee Police Department relayed that, he too, has heard rumors of Highway 288 being the preferred course of travel for perpetrators hoping to avoid city law enforcement.
The majority of drug arrests occurring within the city limits of Hiawassee are the result of traffic stops initiated for citation-related offenses, such as speeding or improper vehicle requirements.
FYN contacted Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton for his thoughts on the theory that drug offenders are skirting Hiawassee in favor of Highway 288, a route which falls under his department’s jurisdiction.
“I am unaware of any official statement by the City of Hiawassee making such a claim. My office has received no criminal intelligence, much less evidence, of any such criminal methodology,” Sheriff Clinton stated via email.
In contrast to 2017 data, Hiawassee Police Department’s self-initiated reports have decreased by 25 percent this year. The agency has seen a 40 percent increase in dispatched calls, however, in the first quarter of 2018.
Hiawassee Police Department has generated a total of 868 case numbers in the past three months. The amount is a combination of traffic stops, citations, and calls for service.
HIAWASSEE, GA – The City of Hiawassee will host its annual Halloween celebration this evening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the Square. Traffic will be diverted clockwise from Main Street in order to protect the safety of ghosts and goblins and maintain a productive flow.
Featured Image: Towns County Fire and Rescue with “witch”, Halloween 2016
Barbara Mathis has been a dedicated elected official of the City of Hiawassee since the
1990’s and Mayor since 1996. She has decided for various personal reasons to retire before her
term ends in December of this year. As Mayor Mathis was considering retirement, the City
discovered that certain procedural errors may have been made related to the method used for the
official approval of the Mayor’s compensation and the addition of the Mayor to the City’s
retirement plan. The City’s retirement plan documents needed to be amended to properly
include the Mayor as a participant. The City made regular contributions to the plan on behalf of
the Mayor and the amendment was simply to bring the language of the plan into conformity with
the reality of the City’s actions and intent. The City adopted the necessary amendments to the
retirement plan at its regular April meeting.
between Mayor Mathis and the City over any past
procedural matters, the City and Mayor Mathis signed a
Release of Claims agreement. The Administrator of the
City’s retirement plan agreed that the Release
Agreement was advisable and in everyone’s best interest.
That Agreement provides that both Mayor Mathis and the
City will release the other party from any claims related to
procedural errors that may have occurred in the past related
to the Mayor’s compensation, payment of qualifying fees, and entitlement to retirement benefits. To
facilitate a smooth transition, Mayor Mathis will make herself available to the City as a consultant for the
remainder of the year. These services will be provided at no additional cost to the City. The Agreement
provides everyone with certainty in an unusual situation.