March 7, 2007
Americus -- Sumter County will be under a curfew, from 10 PM to 5 AM. Americus Police Officers and Sumter County Sheriff's Deputies say they haven't dealt with many crime problems since the tornado.
Sumter County Sheriff's Colonel Eric Bryant patrols the tornado smashed streets of his hometown. "Who would have ever thought a tornado could do so much damage in Americus and Sumter County?" he asks.
Sumter County Sheriff's and Americus Police officers have worked around the clock since Thursday's storm hit. Americus Police Chief James Green said, "I keep having problems sending them home. These are their neighbors and friends, and they want to make sure they are protected."
"Our deputies have been working 14 to 18 hours a day," Bryant said.
Both say crime has not been a problem. There have been three looting arrests in Americus. An overnight curfew has helped, but they don't want to keep it in place longer than necessary. "You don't want to restrict them in their movements," Chief Green said.
There are hundreds of law enforcement officers from 66 Police agencies around the state in Americus, helping keep order. Controlling traffic in damage areas is needed.
"We strongly support and protect the utility workers so they can get things working again," Bryant said.
Now law enforcers are closely watching for rip off workers taking advantage of the disaster. Dozens of Tree cutting and roof repair companies have come in for the work, and police and deputies want to make sure they do a fair job with no price gouging.
"If we find them trying to steal from storm victims, we and the Sheriff's Office are going to come down on them hard and heavy," Green said.
"We have a team of investigators backed up by a team of investigators from the GBI that will be doing nothing but checking for faulty repair or price gouging," Bryant said.
Americus Police and Sumter County deputies, backed up by hundreds of law enforcement officers across the state, keep the town of Americus moving on the road to recovery in an orderly manner. They'll re-evaluate the need for a curfew again tomorrow morning.
A new piece of law enforcement technology is now looking over several Americus locations.
The New Heights mobile police stands are made by a company in Schley County that donated five to help patrol Americus. The police stand is mounted on top of a lift, that puts an officer about 20 feet in the air to survey large areas. The officer has a radio, searchlights, and Public Address system so he can keep a bird's eye view on a large area.