Smith: WCSO employees will be disciplined for speeding

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Sheriff Nick Smith said this week that Walker County Sheriff Office employees who speed will face consequences at work and encouraged other agencies to hold them accountable as well.

"Unfortunately, neither I nor my supervisors can be in every car with every deputy every second of their shift, so if my people can’t follow my rules and the rule of law, they deserve to be held accountable just like the citizens we hold accountable every single day. We are not, and never will be, above the law," Smith told the Daily Mountain Eagle.

Since taking office, Smith has installed GPS units on patrol vehicles that send him an alert when a deputy's speed goes above 75 miles per hour.

GPS units will soon be added to corrections vehicles as well.

The GPS units also assign a grade to WCSO employees based on their driving. The grades are based on a scale of zero to 100. According to documents shared by Smith that covered 20 vehicles, there were six perfect scores, eight in the low 90s and six in the mid to high 90s.

The system, which can provide locations of where the speeding occurred, is also used to verify citizen complaints about the driving of WCSO employees.

Employees who are caught speeding will face discipline that ranges from written reprimands to termination if the situation is deemed serious enough.

Smith said several employees have been sent home and have lost shifts because of their behavior behind the wheel.

He said unless a deputy is responding to an emergency call, there is no excuse for excessive speeding by law enforcement, an issue which he added has been a problem locally and nationally for many years.

"I encourage other agencies to help hold deputies and corrections accountable when driving a county vehicle and issue citations if they violate Alabama traffic laws," Smith said.

Citizens are also encouraged to report deputies who appear to be driving recklessly to Smith.