Posts on Jan 1970

Operation Thumbs Up: October Is “Distractober” In Dalton

The Dalton Police Department is turning October into “Distractober” as it launches Operation Thumbs Up, a month long education and enforcement campaign aimed at reducing distracted driving on our streets. The idea is to keep your thumbs off of your phone (or any other distraction) so you can focus on the road. During October, the agency’s Traffic Unit will be working with the patrol division to step up education and social media coverage of the dangers of distracted driving as well as enforcement.

Most people know that texting while driving is illegal in Georgia, but drivers may not realize that distracted driving is also against Georgia law.  Georgia code 40-6-241 states that “a driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.”  Distracted driving can be defined as “any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving.” Distractions can include cell phones, tuning a radio, reaching for objects on the floor, eating, or grooming. 

According to statistics compiled by the DPD Traffic Unit since 2012, distracted driving has been blamed for at least 120 Dalton car crashes each year.  That accounts for between 10 and 12 percent of wrecks in each of the years studied.  That’s nearly double the roughly 6 percent of crashes in Dalton attributed to speeding or driving under the influence each year.  Over the past three months, distracted drivers were blamed for twice as many crashes as speeders and four times more than drivers under the influence of alcohol.  In August 2014 alone, there were 12 crashes blamed on distracted driving which accounted for 11% of crashes for the month.

In 2012, more than 420,000 people were injured and more than 3,300 people were killed in crashes involving at least one distracted driver.  On May 22nd of this year, one Dalton motorist was lucky not to be added to those stats as he was hit by a train while texting and driving as he crossed the tracks on McFarland Avenue.

During Operation Thumbs Up, the DPD will be staging targeted patrols in areas such as Walnut Avenue and Glenwood Avenue where crash statistics indicate most distracted driving incidents occur in Dalton.  Officers will be on the lookout not just for texting while driving but also for motorists who are driving in an unsafe manner due to other distracting factors.  The department will also be working to educate the public through programs such as the “Teen Maze” event this week at the North Georgia Fairgrounds and also publishing distracted driving information in media releases and postings on the department’s social media pages.  This operation is not a national campaign.  Operation Thumbs Up is a home-grown effort by Dalton Police to make our roads safer.

For more information on distracted driving, visit www.distraction.gov.  

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Phone Scammers Pose As Law Enforcement

The Dalton Police Department is warning the public not to fall for an apparent phone scam with a caller claiming to be a law enforcement officer.  Investigators with the DPD and Whitfield County Sheriff's Office have received multiple reports of a caller claiming to be a lieutenant with the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office. 

In one of the recent reported instances, a Dalton resident reported receiving a voicemail message from a man claiming to be a Lt. Steve Richards from the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office.  The impersonator instructed the victim to call back at 706-299-7501.  That number led to an outgoing recorded message claiming to be the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office and saying that due to a high call volume the call could not be answered.  The message instructs callers to leave a message and their call would be returned by a deputy.  The potential victim instead called 911 to ask if there was actually a deputy named Lt. Steve Richards and learned that the call was likely a scam. Dalton investigators learned that the number is actually registered in Jasper, Georgia.

Investigators do not yet know what the purpose of this phone scam is but they believe it is likely identity theft.  In the past, phone scammers have identified themselves as officers or deputies from area agencies and demanded credit card numbers or to have money loaded on pre-paid “green dot” credit cards in exchange for the dismissal of warrants.

A law enforcement officer will never solicit money for the payment of fines or the dismissal of warrants over the phone.  If you believe you’ve been contacted by a scammer or have any other information on this scam, please contact Detective Matthew Lowery at 706-278-9085, dial 9 and enter extension 133. 

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DPD Wins Governor’s Challenge

The Dalton Police Department is celebrating its first ever win in the Governor’s Challenge.  The annual competition sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) honors outstanding achievement in traffic safety education and enforcement.  Dalton finished first in Category 4 which includes agencies comprised of between 51 and 100 officers.

Competing agencies are judged each year for enforcement programs, educational initiatives, and public information efforts in three categories: occupant safety, speed enforcement, and DUI detection/prevention. During the past year, the DPD expanded its Traffic Enforcement Unit (TEU) from two officers to four.  The TEU has engaged in several education campaigns in Dalton’s schools to inform students about distracted driving and driving under the influence. The TEU has also employed an electronic message board positioned along different Dalton roads to project different traffic safety messages.  While the TEU is focused on traffic issues, the efforts of the department’s patrol division as a whole contributed to the different education and enforcement initiatives and their efforts are recognized by this award.

This is the Dalton Police Department’s 14th year taking part in the Governor’s Challenge and the agency has seven second place finishes and four third place finishes.  This is the first time that the department has taken top honors.  In addition to being honored at Wednesday’s banquet in Macon, the agency wins a $4,000 grant which can be used to purchase equipment from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.  

Below: Master Patrol Officer Woody Cantrell receives the 1st place trophy from Powell Harrelson, the GOHS Law Enforcement Services Director at Wednesday's banquet; Traffic Unit Sergeant Daniel Nicholson and Traffic Unit officers Cantrell, David Saylors, Sean Hudson and Brandon Daugherty pose with the trophy Thursday at the Police Services Center.

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Robbery At TJ Maxx

The Dalton Police Department is looking for a man who assaulted an employee and then robbed the TJ Maxx clothing store on West Walnut Avenue on Wednesday afternoon.  The suspect was photographed by a customer during the incident and that picture is included below.

The incident happened at approximately 3 pm when the man approached an employee behind the front counter and demanded that she open the cash register.  He then punched her in the face and pushed her out of the way and apparently took cash out of the register.  The suspect then fled on foot with an undetermined amount of cash. A witness told officers the suspect ran into the woods behind Steak And Shake on Walnut. Responding officers from the DPD, Whitfield County Sheriff's Office and Tunnel Hill Police swarmed the area but were unable to locate the suspect.

The suspect was described as being a black male standing approximately 6'3" tall with unkempt hair.  He wore a black shirt with a floral pattern and blue basketball-type shorts.  His picture is included below.

Anyone with information on the identity of this suspect should contact Detective Chris Tucker at 706-278-9085 ext 165.

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Public Safety Commission Notes: DFD Promotions, New Officers

Twelve DFD Promotions Confirmed

Twelve Dalton Fire Department promotions were confirmed at Tuesday morning’s monthly meeting of the Dalton Public Safety Commission.  DFD Chief Bruce Satterfield presented nine of the promoted firefighters to the commission while three others were unable to attend due to training commitments. 

Matt Asbell, Keith Locke, and Barry Gilley were all promoted from Firefighter 1 to the rank of Firefighter 2.  Brent Newton and Chris Tallent were promoted from Firefighter 2 to the rank of Engineer.  Tolley Campbell, Robby Townsend, and Matt Vess were promoted from Firefighter 2 to the rank of Firefighter 3.  Dan Hudson and Grant Jenkins moved up from Engineer to Firefighter 3.  Lieutenants Bobby Maton and Josh Townsend were promoted from the rank of Firefighter 3.

All promotions were confirmed by a unanimous 3-0 vote of the Public Safety Commission (PSC members Terry Mathis and Carlos Calderin were not in attendance).

New DPD Officers Confirmed

Officers Daniel Tolbert and Adolfo Miranda both had their appointments as officers with the Dalton Police Department confirmed by unanimous 3-0 vote of the Public Safety Commission Tuesday.  Both officers began their duties with the department earlier in the month but were made official by Tuesday morning’s confirmation vote.

Officer Tolbert is a native of Fayetteville, Georgia where he graduated from Lovejoy High School. Tolbert then continued his education, graduating in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in political science from Fort Valley State University and in 2012 with a master's in criminal justice from Georgia College and State University.  

Officer Miranda was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.  He is a 2012 graduate of Northeastern Illinois University where he played one year of soccer before an injury ended his career.  Miranda received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. 

Below: (From L to R) DFD Chief Bruce Satterfield stands with Robby Townsend, Brent Newton, Josh Townsend, Matt Asbell, Keith Locke, Barry Gilley, Grant Jenkins, Matt Vess, and Dan Hudson after the confirmation of their promotions; (From L to R) DPD Chief Jason Parker stands with Officers Adolfo Miranda and Daniel Tolbert after the confirmation of their appointments

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The Dalton Public Safety Commission is comprised of Chairman William B. Weaver, Carlos Calderin, Terry Mathis, Keith Whitworth, and Kenneth E. Willis.

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DPD Seeks ID Of Copper Thieves

The Dalton Police Department is asking for information from the public to identify two men who stole more than $300 worth of copper wiring from a Shaw facility earlier this month.  The men were recorded on surveillance, but there is a much clearer surveillance picture of the white pickup truck in which they traveled.  The truck is a white pickup that is missing its right quarter panel above the front right wheel.  Investigators are hoping someone will recognize the vehicle or one of the suspects.

The thefts happened on September 5th at the Shaw facility at 1019 Riverbend Road.  The first incident that day happened at approximately 5:00 am when a white male suspect arrived riding a bicycle and stole a small quantity of copper wire.  That suspect returned later in the day at approximately 3:30 pm with another white male in a pickup truck to steal more of the wiring.  In all, approximately 300 pounds of copper wire were stolen. 

Anyone with information on the identity of the two suspects is asked to please contact Detective Brian Shirley at 706-278-9085, dial 9 and then enter extension 189.

Below: Surveillance images of the suspects' vehicle and the suspects themselves

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DPD Arrests Man On Rape Charge

The Dalton Police Department arrested 41 year old Antonio Cruz of 500 Barbara Avenue at his residence on charges of rape, aggravated stalking and aggravated assault Friday morning.  Cruz was arrested at his residence shortly before 6:00 am and the rape was reported earlier in the morning at a nearby apartment complex.

The rape was reported to police at approximately 3:00 am at the Byron Heights apartments on Byron Street.  The victim identified Cruz as the suspect, and told investigators that Cruz had returned home where his three children were home.  At approximately 4:00 am, officers then set up a perimeter around Cruz’s house at 500 Barbara Avenue and began to talk to him by phone.  Shortly before 6:00 am, Cruz agreed to come out peacefully and surrender. 

This case is still being investigated by detectives.

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Dalton Man Arrested For Creative Arts Guild Vandalism

A 29 year old Dalton man surrendered Thursday on a warrant related to the July vandalism at the Creative Arts Guild.  Jose Becerril-Crespo of 2400 Antioch Road turned himself in at the Whitfield County Jail Thursday afternoon on a warrant from the Dalton Police Department.

The vandalism at the Arts Guild was reported to police on July 21st.  Several images and phrases were spray painted in black paint on the columns beneath the main building at 520 West Waugh Street.  Pictures of the graffiti tags were sent to area media and also posted on the Dalton Police Department’s social media accounts with an appeal to the public for information on the case.  Detective Chris Tucker received an anonymous tip from the public which led to developing a lead in the case.  After investigating further, Detective Tucker determined that Becerril-Crespo was the person responsible for the unwelcome art work.  Detective Tucker obtained a warrant for Becerril-Crespo’s arrest earlier this week and Becerril-Crespo arranged to report to the jail Thursday.  He is charged with criminal damage to business property in the second degree.

The Dalton Police Department thanks the media outlets that ran this story.

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DPD Introduces Another New Officer

The Dalton Police Department welcomed another new officer to the ranks earlier this week as Officer Daniel Tolbert joined the force.  Tolbert's badge was pinned during a ceremony at the Police Services Center Tuesday morning.  Tolbert graduated on Friday from the Regional Police Academy in Athens, Georgia.

Officer Tolbert is a native of Fayetteville, Georgia where he graduated from Lovejoy High School. Tolbert then continued his education, graduating in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in political science from Fort Valley State University and in 2012 with a master's in criminal justice from Georgia College and State University.  

Tolbert came to the Dalton Police Department with a law enforcement background.  Before coming to Dalton, he served with the US Border Patrol in California and also as a jail deputy with the Clayton County Sheriff's Office.  Tolbert also served in the United States Army from 2006 until 2008.  

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DUI Crash Causes Traffic Headache On Waugh Street

At approximately 4:55 am this morning, 20 year old Norberto Muniz, Jr. of 905 Vernon Avenue was driving eastbound on Waugh Street when his 2006 GMC Envoy left the roadway and struck a large utility pole. Muniz apparently lost control of the vehicle as it topped the hill and came to a slight curve to the left. The utility pole was severely damaged by the impact and was apparently held up just by the tension of the power lines.  One line was knocked down across the roadway. The DPD closed Waugh Street between Shugart Road and the western entrance to Manly Street before 6:00 AM.  That section of road is expected to remain closed at least through the evening hours Thursday and possibly into the early morning hours Friday as utility crews work to install a new utility pole.

An EMS crew drove by the crash scene this morning almost immediately after the incident and stopped to check on the driver, who attempted to flee the scene on foot.  A paramedic was able to keep Muniz on scene until officers responded.

Officers determined that Muniz was driving in excess of the speed limit before the crash and they also determined that he was driving under the influence of alcohol.  After being transported to Hamilton Medical Center for evaluation and treatment of minor injuries, Muniz was arrested and charged with DUI and driving on a suspended license.  Muniz was also served with a city of Dalton warrant for failure to appear and a warrant from Whitfield County for a probation violation.

Below: The scene of Thursday morning's crash

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