Motor Carrier Unit Expanding

Since January of this year, the motor carrier inspectors have made almost 1,400 stops and have spotted nearly 4,800 violations including incomplete or false log books, weight violations and no brakes on vehicles. Despite the many stops, the officers have written only 37 citations.

There are five deputies who work in the unit. They look for unsafe truck drivers and rigs. Sheriff George Payne put together the country's first local motor carrier unit using a 350-thousand dollar federal grant.  Payne says, "I've heard so many times a neglected truck is an unsafe truck. That affects the quality of life of the citizens of Harrison County. We're real proud to be the first in the county to get the money to be able to something about some of that."

The sheriff met with a group of truckers and truck company owners to explain exactly how the unit works. Some truckers say they've noticed that the inspectors are very visible on the interstate and Highway 49. Construction company owner Mike Blackmer says "My trucks have been pulled over. They have issued a few citations and we've corrected the problems."

The motor unit's director says they're not trying to take over the job of the Mississippi Public Service Commission...which has the same duties as the motor unit. Julian Allen says they're trying to help the P-S-C. "They only have, I believe 32 officers in which they've got two assigned to the lower eight counties of Mississippi. That's why the move to start looking at local jurisdiction so they can put more manpower on the street inspecting commercial motor vehicles," Allen says.

Sheriff Payne isn't stopping with what he's got. Next month his department will get another federal grant and Payne expects more money by the end of the year. Payne says that money will pay to put two more inspectors on the road, and the equipment they need to make the county's roads and highways safer.