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Remerton Rules: Police offer tips for staying out of trouble

Valdosta Daily Times:
Adam Floyd

REMERTON — Baytree Place is home to several bars and restaurants popular with college students, and Remerton Police Investigator Derrick Sinclair hopes sharing information about what is and is not allowed in the small town may encourage students to make good choices and avoid costly consequences.

“Probably the number one issue we deal with are open containers,” said Sinclair.

“You cannot walk up and down Baytree Place with an open container of alcohol. You cannot leave the business establishment with an open container. The best thing to do is stay on the deck or in the building.”

Remerton police issue two to three open-container violations a night upon observing an individual taking an alcoholic beverage from a bar onto the public sidewalk, and

the ticket comes with a hefty $250 fine, said Sinclair.

“Just don’t walk down Baytree Place with alcohol in your hands. No cups. No bottles. No pitchers of beer, which has happened before,” said Sinclair.

While open container may be the most frequent violation, driving under the influence of alcohol is the most serious.

Tipsy Transit, taxi cars and other services are available each night to provide safe transportation home at the end of the night, but officers still have to be on the lookout for drunk drivers who choose to get behind the wheel.

Detective Elvoid Hunter finds the situation frustrating.

“We sometimes have a DUI when there is more than one person in the car,” said Hunter. “There will be somebody in the car who is sober, but for some reason they let the drunk person drive.”

Remerton police handle four to five DUI cases a week. In 2013, they made more than 200 DUI arrests, said Sinclair.

Fake identification cards have also become a problem for the department.

“A lot of them are really good fakes. We’ve come across quite a few,” Sinclair said. “But the bars are getting better at reporting them to us. We get fake IDs every night, but the majority are just people who are using someone else’s ID.”

Regardless of whether the ID is fake or borrowed, the fine for using a fraudulent ID to get into a Remerton bar is steep.    

“It’s a thousand dollar fine,” said Sinclair.

Those who cannot pay the fine work for the city at minimum wage until they pay off what they owe, said Sinclair.

Large crowds often become a safety concern for Remerton police. Baytree Place can become heavily congested, and officers try ensuring there are clear paths for pedestrians and vehicles.

“We have to keep the crowd moving,” said Sinclair. “Sometimes, we get these big crowds that gather in front of the bars and never go in. You either need to go in, or go someplace else.”

At the beginning of each new semester, the department also has to deal with another problem – mailbox vandalism.

“Those are generally males. They get drunk and walk up to mailboxes and punch them,” said Hunter. “They just beat them off the posts with their hands.”

The crime costs Remerton residents money to replace the boxes and ties up police department resources. And for that, a creative punishment was derived.

“If we catch you, we will punish you,” said Sinclair. “We make them wear a billboard that says, ‘I will not destroy mailboxes’ and have them walk up and down the street as part of their probation sentence.”

Sinclair said, for several offenses, officers will warn people before they find themselves in trouble.

“Arresting someone is the last thing we want to do,” said Sinclair. “It ties us up as a small department.”

Staying out of trouble in Remerton, according to Sinclair, is all about making good decisions.

“Conduct yourself as if your mama was watching,” said Sinclair. “Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want her seeing you do.”