COVINGTON - What has a six-speed transmission, anti-lock brakes and a 103-cubic-inch engine? Answer: The newest addition to the Newton County Sheriff's Office's traffic unit - a 2008 Harley Davidson Electra-Glide.
With gas prices and the costs associated with maintaining patrol vehicles on the rise, the NCSO recently decided to add the 100th Anniversary Police Edition motorcycle to its fleet to help with traffic enforcement in the county.
"It's got everything a car does," said Deputy Jack Redlinger, who will be riding the motorcycle. "There's nothing like riding a motorcycle at a job ... that's my partner."
A 20-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department, Redlinger said he enjoys not being confined to a patrol unit, as well as the ease with which he can navigate through traffic in emergency situations.
"You can get anywhere you need to go," he said. "Where you can't go in a car, a motorcycle unit can. You can use them for anything."
Redlinger rode motorcycles in the APD's traffic unit for seven years and also spent time as a hostage negotiator in his time with the department. He said that some of his most memorable moments were being able to escort the motorcades of presidents when they would come to the city for different events.
According to Sgt. Randy Downs, who works the traffic unit with his partner, Deputy Kevin Watkins, this will be the first time that the NCSO has used a motorcycle for traffic enforcement.
Downs said that Redlinger will primarily work the county's school zones and areas in which residents have expressed traffic concerns.
The motorcycle unit, which cost about half of what a Ford Crown Victoria would have, made its debut last week in the West Newton Elementary school zone on Brown Bridge Road.
Through traffic enforcement, Downs hopes that adding a new deputy to the unit will help reduce the number of traffic accidents throughout the county.
"(Newton County Sheriff Joe Nichols) and I are pleased with what we've been able to do in the last year," Downs said of the traffic unit's ability to handle citizen complaints.
Downs reiterated that deputies don't write tickets to generate revenue nor do they write them to meet quotas and that their primary concern is the safety of motorists.
According to Downs, there have been nine fatality accidents so far this year, but only one of those could have been prevented through traffic enforcement.
Downs urges anyone with a traffic concern in the community to contact him through the sheriff's office Web site at www.newtonsheriffga.org and clicking on "traffic tip line" or directly at email@example.com.
Joel Griffin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org