The multiple arms of the law wasted no time snatching up speeders on Fort Stewart’s roads this week.
Less than 24 hours after the signing of a law enforcement partnership between Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield military police, the Georgia State Patrol, Savannah-Chatham metro police and the sheriffs’ departments of Liberty, Long, Bryan, Tattnall, Chatham and Evans counties, motorists caught speeding across the Army installation were seen being ticketed by non-military officers.
The partnership, signed at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Fort Stewart’s Club Stewart, effectively changed jurisdiction on Highways 144 and 119, Fort Stewart Road 47 — also called Old Sunbury Road — and sections of roads near Hunter Army Airfield.
This means local law enforcement and the installation’s military police will patrol the roads together.
“It’s a joint effort on the part of the military and the community’s law enforcement to bridge a gap that’s been long coming and it’s something we’ve needed to do,” Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes said. “[It means] you have several more pairs of eyes looking at you now.”
GSP Commissioner Bill Hitchens said the Patrol has always supplemented local law enforcement agencies, and now his troopers will be allowed to do the same on federal land.
Jurisdiction was formerly made exclusive to Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield on Feb. 15, 1952, post officials said.
“Since 1952…there’s been a line in the sand,” Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Law Enforcement Division chief Max Brown said. “By today’s ceremonial signing, that’s no longer an issue.”
He said the agreement has been three years in the works, and that there has not been an increase in speeding on post roads.
The process began in December 2007, Fort Stewart garrison commander Col. Kevin Milton said.
He said the partnership is “the next chapter,” in cooperation between the installation and surrounding communities.
“We’re not going to stop every speeder…but they should be on notice now,” he said. “It’s not going to lighten our (military police’s) average daily load.”
The colonel confirmed the installation’s new law enforcement partners will not patrol the cantonment area of Fort Stewart or Hunter Army Airfield. He said revenue from citations will go to the agency whose officer writes the ticket.
If a soldier is pulled over by an MP, that violation will be handled by the soldier’s chain-of-command, the garrison commander said. If a soldier gets a ticket from the GSP or a sheriff’s deputy, then he will deal with the state or county court, Milton added.