Chief: No warnings for bad driving

Published 9:39 pm Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Beginning Thursday, Batesville patrolmen will have a zero tolerance policy for speeding and careless driving in school zones.

“Our officers are usually very accommodating and will give warnings to slow speeders in some cases, but not this week,” said Chief of Police Kerry Pittman Tuesday. “Batesville Police Department takes the safety of school children very seriously and we absolutely will not tolerate drivers who put families and children in danger because they are late for work or not paying attention to flashing lights.”

Pittman said the city has been fortunate to have had few serious accidents involving school children in recent years, and extra attention to careful driving is the main reason.

“Our officers have made school safety a priority for several years and I think the public knows by now that we will not be taking any excuses for speeding in school zones, it’s just not worth it to risk the lives of our youngest citizens,” Pittman said.

South Panola School District’s administration and staff have worked full days this week in preparation for Thursday’s return to school for students on the campuses in Batesville and at Pope.

Pittman said the first few days of school traffic are usually the most frustrating for drivers and school officials while parents and buses learn the flow of traffic and when the areas around the schools are most congested.

“Every fall we also have a whole new group of students who are driving age and are just beginning to drive their own vehicles back and forth to school. We have those new drivers and there’s always families who are picking up and dropping off at a new place that makes the first couple of weeks a little more difficult,” Pittman said. “We will have officers and crossing guards posted at all the usual places and if drivers will pay attention to flashing lights and use a little extra caution we can avoid careless accidents.”

North Panola schools will also get underway Thursday, the first time many of those students have been on campus since the week before Spring Break in 2019. Families and students in North Panola are anxious for a return to in-person learning, officials report, and the new bus schedule is included elsewhere in this edition.

Police there are also stepping up street patrols for the school zones in Sardis and Como.

Sheriff Shane Phelps said road deputies are also aware of the extra morning and afternoon traffic when school begins, and the safety of children being transported on school buses throughout Panola County is a responsibility his office considers a daily priority.

“Going around stopped school buses, or anything else that puts our kids in danger will get you a ticket quick,” Phelps said. “Each shift has already been making plans to slow down the vehicles in areas we know school buses will be starting and stopping. That’s where drivers have to be careful and alert and we will be watching.”
Phelps said the size the county and dozens of bus routes all over make it impossible to cover all the roads each day, but deputies will give attention to areas that generate citizen complaints.

“If you see a dangerous situation that keeps happening in an area, pick up the phone and let us know,” the sheriff said. “Dialing 563-6230 doesn’t take much time and all calls we get are taken down and checked out as officers get to them. We want citizen input and depend on help from them. Children’s safety is one of the most important things we handle every day and the start of school just means added responsibility for us and the public.”