From the Desk of Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton:
Over the years I have often commented that I wished most people had experience riding a motorcycle, as most riders learn very quickly to pay attention to other drivers and take responsibility for their own safety. I bought my first street bike in 1987 and over the years the skills I learned that first year or so have continued to serve me well. Of course, I have continued to learn, but the basics remain the same. I realize that most people never own or even ride a motorcycle, nor do they have the desire. Some even think those of us who do ride should not. That being said, I thought I would offer some tips that apply to all vehicles that, if practiced each time you drive, should improve your safety and those around you. These tips apply not only to motorcycles, but can and should be used by any driver of any vehicle.
Driving distracted is a serious problem on our roads today. We have all sorts of laws addressing it, two more recent ones on everyone’s mind are texting while driving and hands free driving, but the real issue is being distracted by anything. One should always be alert and scanning the roadway ahead, paying close attention to what is behind and on either side of you, as well as your instruments. Scanning keeps you from getting locked onto something for too long which causes accidents. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), one should never remain focused on something for over four seconds at a time. In my opinion, four seconds is a very long time to not be scanning. While scanning, one should always be looking as far as possible down the road for potential hazards. Be mindful of potential hazards and where your potential “escape routes” are located if you need to avoid a collision with a distracted driver. By knowing what is around you, you have a better chance of finding a safe escape route. It doesn’t do much good to avoid one collision only to create another.
Following too closely is a problem I see often. Georgia’s Emergency Vehicle Operations course advises law enforcement officers to leave a two-second reactionary gap between your vehicle and the one in front. I follow MSF’s rule of remaining three to five seconds behind the vehicle in front. The reasons are: This gives more time to react, especially if you were looking elsewhere when the trouble ahead occurs. It also allows you to see much further down the road and watch for hazards. I often see people so close that they can’t possibly avoid striking the vehicle in front of them if it were to strike something. In that situation the second driver can’t see anything except the vehicle in front of them and haven’t left time to react if that driver makes the mistake of striking something ahead of them. Simply pick out a spot ahead and as the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you cross it count to yourself one thousand one, one thousand two, etc. Make sure you get to three full seconds at least. Try it and notice how much more you can see what is going on down the road.
Another piece of advice is to not drive faster that you can see, regardless of the speed limit because that might be posted too high. By this I am talking about curves, hills, or any other thing that prevents us from seeing further. When approaching a curve, etc., one should only travel as fast as they “can see.” When entering a curve or topping a hill etc., make sure you can safely stop the vehicle in the distance that you can see. We can’t know what is beyond our field of vision. Often people start into a curve already pushing the speed, only to find it suddenly becomes a sharper turn than they can negotiate at that speed. Heading west off Clayton mountain, there is a smashed up guard rail. We work a lot of wreck there for this very reason. People enter that curve faster that they can see to drive. While that is bad enough and some have been seriously hurt, it could be worse. I’ve witnessed a lot of tragedy in this profession, much of it avoidable by taking a little extra care. Maybe it isn’t that the curve is too sharp, maybe you know the road well, but what if someone’s child is chasing a ball, but you couldn’t see that. Wouldn’t we want to be able to stop in time? I use that example because like many officers, I have had to witness the horror when someone drives faster than they can see while distracted. A mistake like that can often be avoided beforehand, but can never be called back. Stay safe, friends!
From the Desk of Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton:
Summer is a time for outdoor play, renewing friendships, reliving memories, and trying new activities. So you and your family will also have a safe season, the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association offers the following summer safety guidelines:
• Never allow a child to swim unsupervised. If your child is going with a friend to swim, be sure to speak with the adult in charge. Don’t be afraid to ask if they know CPR. Children can drown quickly, and in very small amounts of water. Even a brief span of inattention can be fatal. Take the opportunity to evaluate your child’s ability and general comfort in the water. Make sure your child knows the safety rules.
• Hydration is important for all ages, particularly in the summer. A dehydrated person can become weak, faint, and vulnerable. Make sure you allow at least eight glasses of water per day for each person, more if you’re involved in athletics or strenuous activities. If you’re traveling, freeze water in reusable containers to pack in a cooler. The ice will thaw gradually, but the water will stay cooler and more refreshing during the long, hot summer days.
• When schools are not in session, children often spend more time on the computer or in front of the television. Make sure your computer has an Internet filter (available from many family-oriented websites), and that you have activated the parental controls on your television. Teach your child never to give out their name, address, or other identifying information to anyone on the Internet. Make an effort to become acquainted with the parents of your children’s friends. Don’t be afraid to ask them what their guidelines are for their child’s Internet and television use.
• Set outdoor boundaries for your child. A good way to establish these limits is to take a tour of the neighborhood with your child and determine what areas are off limits. Perhaps you live near a highway or a busy intersection that might be designated “out of bounds” because of the risks they present to your child. Often, places with water, such as creeks, streams, and ponds are also out of bounds. Entering unfamiliar homes without a parent should always be out of bounds. Discuss these boundaries with your child and make sure they understand.
• Get to know your child’s camp counselors, coaches, troop leaders, ministers, and teachers.
When you speak to the adults in your child’s life, establish yourself as your child’s parent. If time allows, consider offering to volunteer or help out in some capacity. Not only will you enjoy the time you spend engaged with your child in summer activities, but you can watch their interaction with others and monitor their activities.
As your sheriff, it is my goal to help keep our community a safe place to live, work, and raise a family. Never hesitate to call upon your Sheriff’s Office for assistance. I hope that each of you have a safe summer season.
From the Desk of Sheriff Chris Clinton
Towns County, Georgia
The Towns County Sheriff’s Office has received several reports recently in reference to telephone scams. In some of these scams the callers have identified themselves as being representatives of the Sheriff’s Office. These callers have told victims that they had outstanding warrants against them. The scammers go on to tell victims that the warrants can be taken care of if the victims pay certain amounts of money. Neither I, nor any employees of the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, will ever contact you to solicit money.
Other recent scams involve scammers claiming to be representatives of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These callers claim the victim owes back taxes and that law enforcement officers are in the area awaiting word to arrest the victim if they do not provide a certain amount of money. The IRS does not solicit payment over the phone.
Many of these recent scams have involved payment via iTunes cards or other forms of direct payment. The scammers attempt to get the victim’s money immediately before they realize this is a scam. At least one caller actually had an individual call and represent himself as Sheriff Chris Clinton. That is when the victim realized it was a scam and advised the caller that they knew Chris Clinton and that the caller was not the Sheriff.
No legitimate law enforcement agency should be calling you to solicit money, nor would a legitimate law enforcement officer attempt to keep you on the phone until you had paid money.
Anyone who receives a call asking for funds to take care of outstanding warrants or back taxes are urged to report these scammers to your Sheriff’s Office at 706-896-4444.
From the Desk of Sheriff Chris Clinton
Towns County, Georgia
As I reflect on the horrible tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that destroyed lives and brought such sorrow and grief to so many families, there are no words that can properly convey how I feel for those hurt by this despicable act of evil. I’m sure there will be some who will be offended by my thoughts and that is their right. I can only hope they will understand that this is an issue that is very near to my heart as Sheriff of Towns County. I have often stated that school shootings are the most horrible of crimes and the nightmare of Sheriffs everywhere.
I find it extremely unfortunate that in the aftermath of such horrible tragedies, there are those who inevitably attempt to make a political profit by jumping on the Second Amendment issue. Over the years, it seems that there are many who almost want this issue to remain because they make political hay from it. So often it seems that the same people who blame law enforcement for shootings, whether justified or not, want to blame the firearm for the shootings carried out by mass murderers.
Too many news reports want to talk about the personal issues the shooter may have been experiencing, as though it matters at this point. The time to have helped the individual would’ve been before he shot up a school. Then, some of these same reporters blame the NRA and anyone else who believes in the Second Amendment as their best defense against such acts, which does nothing at all to address the problem. The problem is a condition of the human heart that allows an individual to perpetrate such unspeakable horrors. While it may well be unfortunate that the shooter went down a dark path, it happened. It is too late to help this sick individual. Actions have consequences and the actions taken by this individual are so evil that they demand justice. Justice is for the victims, those who lost their lives, those who lost loved ones, the community, the whole nation; we have all been harmed. It no longer matters what led up to the shooter doing this. It has been done and it demands justice.
What we can do is look for real solutions to trying to prevent these horrific acts from occurring. These acts of violence have always plagued the human race, which is why the Office of Sheriff is the oldest elected office in the history of the world. There are those who, when given the opportunity, will harm the innocent. The question becomes how do we stop them or at least do all that we can to do prevent them from carrying out these horrific evils.
Eliminating guns is an impractical and flawed argument. Guns aren’t the only weapons of choice by this type of criminal. In the Township of Bath Michigan, on May 18, 1927, 38 elementary school children and 6 adults were murdered, while 58 others were injured by a mad man, who had formerly served as the school board treasurer. Andrew Kehoe did not use a gun. The much talked about AR-15 had not even been invented yet. Kehoe used homemade bombs to carry out this horrible crime. On June 11, 1964 in Cologne, West Germany, a deranged criminal used a homemade flame thrower and lance to murder eight students, two teachers, and injure twenty-two others.
While many would ask to ban guns, I ask can we ban evil. We have laws against murder, but it still happens daily. Not all murders involve a firearm. Some crimes are prevented by firearms. Firearms are inanimate objects with no will of their own. They can be used by humans for perpetrating evil, but they may also be used by humans to defend against evil. Jeff Cooper in “The Art of the Rifle” made the following observation, “The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.”
While some may take offense at the harsh, cold reality, I believe that we should look at ways of protecting our precious children, rather than making them more vulnerable. I am committed to doing all I can, including the willingness to lay down my own life, to protect our children. I only ask that we look for solutions in keeping our children safe, not in some far off imagined utopia where no one breaks the law, but today. We have lost too many precious lives and rhetoric has done nothing to deter crime. My thoughts and prayers go out the families and community of these precious children who were the unarmed, undefended victims of an evil act of violence perpetrated by a criminal. My heart breaks for them.
From the Desk of Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton:
During the holiday season, busy people intent on trying to complete their Christmas shopping often become the target of criminals who seek to steal packages from vehicles parked in mall and shopping center parking lots. The following information is provided in conjunction with your Georgia Sheriffs’ Association and is intended to help you from becoming the next victim.
When shopping, look for the best lit parking spaces. Once in your chosen space, look around before leaving your car. Is there anyone in the vicinity watching you? Do you see anyone loitering? If so, remain in your car and watch them for a moment. If they move on, that’s fine, but if not, you might consider moving to a new parking space. If you feel uncertain or unsafe about a situation you observe, take steps to move yourself to a safer location. Don’t assume you are being foolish or paranoid.
Once you are in a safer location, lock your vehicle and move quickly and confidently to the store. Would-be thieves and robbers are looking for the easiest targets. If you show that you are aware of what is happening around you and move with a sense of purpose, you are less likely to become a victim. Walk against the flow and traffic.
Keep your head up and scanning—look forward, to the right and left, and even check behind as you walk. Awareness is your greatest defense. Don’t search through a purse or bags in the parking lot. If you must look for something, make sure you are in the safety of the store before you become absorbed in your hunt for a tissue, shopping list or other item.
If you store items in your vehicle, make sure they are covered or concealed. If you are putting bags in your vehicle and returning to shop, move your car from time to time in case someone is watching you.
Finally, if leaving late from a shopping mall or store, don’t hesitate to ask a store employee for help. Don’t accept the kind offer of the “stranger” who meets you outside the door and offers assistance. It may be a kind and generous offer, but it could also be ploy to gain access to your belongings.
Be aware, stay safe, and have a joyous and wonderful holiday season!
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. – For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com
From the Desk of Sheriff Christopher M. Clinton –
Towns County Schools were back in session as of Thursday, August 3rd. Please be aware that in the mornings from approximately 7:30 AM until approximately 8:00 AM there will be increased traffic in front of the school. Traffic will again increase around 3:00 PM. The Sheriff’s Office will be providing traffic control to assist with safety.
Also, please be mindful that school buses will be picking up and dropping off children in the mornings and afternoons. It is the duty of any driver of a motor vehicle, when passing or overtaking a school bus from either direction, to come to a complete stop before reaching the school bus at any time the visual signals of the bus are on. The driver shall not resume travel until the bus has once again resumed travel and has deactivated the signals. Passing a stopped school bus is a serious traffic offense. School bus drivers are authorized and directed under Georgia law to make a report describing any vehicle committing the offense. Said report will then be turned over to the local law enforcement having authority and a citation issued.
The following information, provided by Safe Kids USA, is offered to parents of school age children. These are helpful ideas that may help keep your child safe.
School buses are generally considered one of the safest ways to travel; however, an estimated 5,000 children are injured each year in school bus related accidents. Many of these injuries occur when children are entering or exiting the bus. This is likely due to the fact that the driver has a blind spot of about 10 feet around the bus. This is sometimes difficult for younger children to understand. Half of all school-age pedestrians killed in bus-related crashes are between 5 and 7 years old (SAFE KIDS USA)
• Help keep children safe by teaching them to wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the bus driver says that it is safe to board the bus.
• Make sure children know that they should never walk behind or close to the sides of a bus.
• Teach children to never run across the road to catch a school bus.
• Pay extra attention and never speed when driving in a school zone and around school buses and pedestrians.
As any parent will tell you, our children are our greatest blessings in life. As your Sheriff, I am committed to doing all that I can to help our children remain safe. Please help by being extra alert when driving and reminding others to do so as well.
As we prepare to host the 9th annual fundraiser for the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes I thought it would be good to talk a bit about what the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes are and how they came about. The purpose of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes is, in the words of the Sheriffs’ Association, “to give our state’s most at-risk children the love, safety, and structure needed to become mature, successful adults.
The Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes grew out of a concern that the Sheriffs of Georgia have for abused and neglected children. During the 1950’s the sheriffs noticed that this was a growing problem across the state and began to consider ways to make a difference in the lives of these children who, through no fault of their own, had become victims of abuse and neglect. The sheriffs considered this project vital for these children and for our state.
In 1960 Georgia’s Sheriffs were able to open the first Georgia Sheriffs’ Boys Ranch near Hahira, Georgia. The Boys Ranch provided children an opportunity to learn “strong moral values, religious awareness, personal responsibility, teamwork and acceptance of authority, as well as how to overcome adversity” (Georgia Sheriffs’). This first campus was only the start of a vision that would continue to grow. Today there are four additional campuses that provide a nurturing atmosphere for boys and girls placed strategically across the state.
The Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes are designed to teach children that they are able to overcome their difficulties and that if they work for it, they can obtain a better life for themselves. I think that all children deserve to be given a chance to succeed.
On Friday, June 16, 2017 the Chatuge Gun Club and I will be hosting our 9th annual trap shoot at the Chatuge Gun Club shooting range located on Owl Creek Rd. Last year we added a banquet and will continue that tradition this year. The banquet will feature live music by the Chris Clinton Band and will be held on Saturday, June 17, 2017 beginning at 5:30 pm at the Towns County Recreation and Conference Center, located at 150 Foster Park Rd. All the proceeds go directly to benefit the children of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes and because the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes is a public charity, any donation to the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes qualifies for the highest tax deduction allowed by law.
Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa. Those are the names of the five officers who lost their lives in the Dallas shooting last week. These were real people with families and people they cared about, who cared about them. You never hear their names in the media; you only hear the names of officers who are accused, often wrongfully, of making a mistake. Perhaps that is why three more officers were ambushed on Sunday in Louisiana, or why a gunman attempted to ambush four officers in Baltimore last Thursday evening.
It would seem that for several years now there is a growing trend of reckless comments being made by elected officials and their friends in the media, comments that have led to the loss of innocent lives, like that of Deputy Sheriff Darren Goforth, a husband and father of two young children who was shot fifteen times in the back and back of his head, while pumping gas. Deputy Goforth was murdered for no reason other than the fact that he was wearing a uniform.
Much of the anger that is causing this type of violence is based on false narratives that are being perpetuated by “news” stories that contain little or no fact. I find it ironic that the Dallas area officers were simply protecting the rights of the citizens to have a peaceful protest when they were murdered because they were wearing the uniform.
I find it even more disturbing that our media has begun to use their right of being a free press to promote lies, stir up anger and hate, and to cause innocent lives to be lost. I believe that our founders envisioned a free press as a protector of the truth, not as a means to promote an agenda through lies. I believe that there is a duty and a responsibility of every American to protect our liberty and the things that make our country great, but that Americans are having their rights taken away through deception.
The truth matters. Words have meaning and they are the only tools we have to convey thought. I agree with my good friend and colleague, Sheriff Scott Berry of Oconee County when he says that, while we are all entitled to draw our own conclusions, we are not entitled to our own set of facts. I fear that as a nation we are devolving into a form of anarchy being brought on by lies, innuendo, and half truths.
James Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, said in a letter to W.T. Barry, “A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
I would encourage anyone interested in seeing first hand what our Sheriff’s Office does to protect us and what it is actually like to be a deputy sheriff, to consider taking one of our upcoming Citizen Law Enforcement Academy (CLEA) classes. Our CLEA graduates are armed with knowledge and are better able to take ownership in the Sheriff’s Office. They get an honest, first-hand view that simply isn’t available in the media.
Our next class begins Tuesday, August 23, at 3:00 PM and will meet each Tuesday for ten weeks. Anyone interested in being in this class should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 706-896-4444.