There’s just one little problem: The state law in question does not allow police to issue citations in such cases.
“We cannot write a ticket (for these violations) because there is no method in place that allows a peace officer to issue a citation,” Cobb Police Sgt. Dana Pierce said. “Whether we write a ticket or not though, we still address the issue with the (violator).”
But at present, the county Solicitor General’s Office cannot fine violators because it is a civil, not criminal matter, according to Cobb Solicitor General Barry Morgan.
“The state law didn’t grant us the ability to prosecute civil cases when they wrote the law,” he said.
Morgan added that the discrepancy was noticed by the school district last summer when the law was implemented. So now he and representatives from the various parties involved (county government, school district and police) are trying to get an ordinance in place to let them actually enforce the stop arm law.
Once that law is in place, the board would then have to approve a Memorandum of Understanding relating to the costs involved and how the funds generated by the violations would be distributed.
“The ordinance will hopefully be passed in two weeks,” said Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee. “The MOU is under review by the school board attorney, and when they finally come back, which will hopefully be soon, with their change and recommendations … then it’ll be brought before the (commission) to be adopted formally.”
It’s expected that Cobb would become the first county in Georgia to resolve the legalities of the Stop Arm Law.
“We’re working as diligently as we can, but being cautious,” Lee said. “When you venture into a whole new area where there is no precedent or other jurisdictions doing it as a starting point, we want to be timely but careful.”
Fair enough. The important thing is to get the matter cleared up, and quickly. Otherwise it’s akin to arming a country’s army with all the latest weaponry, but not equipping it with any ammunition.