Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday officially opened the new Georgia State Patrol Post 4 that will serve Carroll and Douglas counties.
Over the past year, details surrounding the deplorable conditions at the post’s former location in Villa Rica were brought before the Carroll County Board of Commissioners. The BOC approved the $900,000 purchase of what used to be a bank on the Carrollton Villa Rica Highway. With an additional $200,000 from the city of Villa Rica and $300,000 in renovations, furniture and exterior items such as gates and fences, the staff was able to move into the building at the end of August.
Carroll County Board of Commissioners Chairman Marty Smith and Post 4 Commander Butch Thornton said they are grateful for the community partnerships that helped bring the project to fruition. Smith said that when Thornton approached him about the need for a new post, he was not prepared for the condition the old site was in.
“The only way to describe what we found was deplorable conditions,” said Smith. “I was ashamed. The building was built in 1962 and it was renovated in 1965 and it had nothing much done to it in 40 years. This became my number one project . ... We were able to purchase this building by using county staff and inmate labor for all the renovations and we have been able to provide twice the required space for one-third of what it would have cost the citizens of Carroll County. This facility will adequately meet present and future needs of our growing community and that of the west Georgia area. It will have administrative offices as well as training and evidence storage areas.”
Smith said keeping the post in the county enhances local law enforcement services.
“I believe that cooperation is the key to any successful project and this one is no different,” he said. “It has been a great partnership between the county and the state and our city municipalities. ... Without these community partnerships, this project would have not been possible.”
Gov. Deal toured the facility and greeted the legislators, local officials, staff and residents who came to participate in the opening.
“I am told that this post has been the busiest post in the state and it handles more crashes than any other post in the entire state of Georgia,” said Deal. “I appreciate the fact that the state patrol steps up and works these crashes and in a very efficient manner. It is good for the community and it is certainly good for the revenue stream for local jurisdictions and it makes a difference in terms of the safety of all of us who travel on the roadway. So we are very appreciative of that.”
Deal said some very bold steps were recently made with regard to saying “thank you” to those who wear the uniform in the state of Georgia. He said law enforcement officers have very dangerous jobs at a time when there are many who do not have any respect for the rule of law or for the authority of those who wear the uniform. He said that last year, with the approval and consent of the General Assembly, the state was able to give law enforcement officers, primarily troopers, a 20 percent pay raise that was long overdue.
“As a result of that pay raise, and I think it’s largely attributed to that, we have seen a doubling of the applications for those who wish to become state troopers,” he said. “We have seen our trooper classes begin to grow and they were on the decline prior to that, and we have also seen those who may have thought they want to retire decide this may be a way that the state has said ‘thank you to me and I am willing to serve in longer’ and they have remained in their positions and that gives us continuity and the kind of experience that we all need in those positions. ... I have seen this community rally to the creation of this new post that is a great indication of community spirit. It is a great symbol of the fact that this is a community that is glad to have law enforcement and it and it is good for your county.”
After Thornton took Deal on a tour and he signed a welcome book, Deal reflected on his respect for those who are the uniform and mentioned that his security detail is comprised of state patrol officers. He also gave his thoughts on the building, which he said was one of the largest state patrol posts in the state.
When asked if he felt it will meet the needs to serve both Douglas and Carroll counties simultaneously, Deal agreed that it would enhance west Georgia.
“It really is a great facility and to be able to use the building of this magnitude and be able to convert it to the uses that they have for a state patrol post is really good,” said Deal. “The layout is exceptional. I think it serves the purposes that a post has and I just compliment everyone for their cooperation and their willingness to make this happen. This is an important facility. As you say it serves those two growing counties and the population growth in those two counties is going to continue to go up. It is certainly a needed facility and I just compliment the local community for being willing to step up and do their part.”