Recently, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office unveiled its new Traffic Response Vehicle, which will be heading out on local roadways in early 2019 to handle major accidents, help stranded motorists and improve deputy safety on busy roads.
On Thursday, this new vehicle was on display for several hours at Buffalo’s Café in Cumming, as the sheriff’s office accepted a large donation of equipment from the restaurant and off-roading group, the Tri-County Jeepers.
Similar to the Highway Emergency Response Operators, or HERO Units, which respond to accidents in the metro Atlanta area, this new vehicle will be the county’s first unit dedicated solely to keeping roadways safe, said sheriff’s office spokesman Deputy First Class Tim Kingsbury.
“I think one of the huge benefits of having our own is the public knows that they're going to get taken care of,” Kingsbury said. “A lot of the metro area agencies are going with their own unit … and they will come up in our county, if we request them, but they have a lot of other jurisdictions to take care of.”
Kingsbury said that the vehicle will be fully outfitted with serious tools like compressors, impact wrenches, tall pole floodlights, barriers and an electronic sign that will allow them to respond to practically any situation.
As they keep using the vehicle, he said that they expect to expand the list of things it is used for.
“I have a strong feeling that we're going to find more uses than what we think we're going to use it for now,” Kingsbury said. “It's going to be one of those, ‘Hey, what if we use this for this purpose?’ situations. But yeah, I think it's going to be very beneficial.”
According to Kingsbury, residents should expect to see the large boxy vehicle out on the roadway in late January or early February only during morning traffic, but their goal is to eventually have a fully functional vehicle operating round the clock.
He said that between now and when the vehicle is rolled out officially, there is still work to be completed on the vehicle, which has been donated to the sheriff’s office from local groups and business.
Kingsbury estimated that the groups donated several thousands of dollars in equipment, a gift that is greatly appreciated by the sheriff’s office.
“What that does is shows that they have a huge support for us and in turn, we support our community,” he said.
According to Bob Evans of Tri-County Jeepers, the equipment they donated on Thursday was fully funded by their annual “Back the Blue” event in August, where they sold shirts and badges out of Buffalo’s Café.
Evans said they had plans to buy the sheriff’s office different equipment, like uniforms and K9 gear during the summer and fall, but the charitable nature of the county prevailed and other groups beat them to the punch.
“We have found that since we've been involved in these different events with the sheriff's department people will just go out of their way to do stuff for them ... things like people going out to cut somebody's lawn … strangers sweeping the glass from an accident, things they normally don't have to do,” Evans said. “There is a love in this community, in this county, for the sheriff's department; there really is, and I hope we’re going to continue doing it.”
For Eric Ehlers, general manager of Buffalo’s Café in Cumming, this donation was just the best way of saying thank you to local law enforcement officers in the county.
“In my opinion, these guys work 24/7 and they bust their butts for us all the time, and this is a way that we can at least give back to them,” Ehlers said.