When the Weather is Frightful, Check Your Texts and Emails

In his latest column, Chief Deputy Lee Weems discusses how to keep up with winter weather and emergency alerts. He also warns of some recent scams, highlights patrol division awards and talks about an accident study.

Winter Weather and Emergency Alerts

Winter is upon us, and we have already had forecast of snow in the area.  We would like to remind everyone of available emergency alert systems.  Citizens can sign up for emergency alerts using the Nixle system by going to http://www.nixle.com and establishing an account.   This method allows you to sign up for email and/or text message alerts.  Another method for signing up is to text your zip code to 888-777.  This method will send you any emergency alert that is sent out to that zip code.  Finally, there is a free app available for iPhones in the App Store. 

As of the writing of this article,  there are 3718 mobile subscribers and 2181 email subscribers to our Nixle messages.  We also have the ability to send out Nixle messages over Facebook and Twitter.

We utilize Nixle for road closures, severe weather, crime alerts and missing persons.


Scams, Scams, Scams 

I am not a statistician, but I can pretty well guess the odds of winning the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.  Never once has an official of the Georgia Lottery just shown up to give me winnings.  I expect the same applies to the lotteries of various European countries as well. 

Even though I write a monthly piece for the Oconee Patch, I doubt this makes me world renowned enough for people in other countries to select me to help them move millions of dollars out of another country to the United States with me keeping a substantial fee for my services all for nothing other than allowing the use of my bank account.

Even though someone may have my email address, why did they pick me out of all of the people they know to try to get me to wire them money after they were robbed on their European vacation?  The people with whom I am actually close enough with to wire them money in such an instance are people who are also close enough to me that I would have known they were in Europe. 

I wrote the above with the intent to convey some semblance of humor based on the spam email that I receive.  Unfortunately, there are people who, out of good will or desperation, fall prey to such scams. 

A scam that we heard about recently involved an individual who had gotten into a little trouble previously in their life getting a phone call from someone claiming to be a Special Agent and informing the individual that they had to pay via wire another $2,500 for a fine or they would go to jail.   If you get such a call or correspondence, tell the person contacting you that you would like to meet at the agency in question to pay the fine or that you need official notification in writing sent to your lawyer.

Another scam that we have seen involves mystery shopper programs in which money orders and money wires are sent via courier services.  The victim is told to deposit the transfers into their account and then to obtain other money orders or wires and forward them on to other people keeping a portion of the money for themselves.  The incoming money orders/wires end up being fraudulent and the victims gets hit by a charge back from their bank and are out the money that they sent to the next person.  A variation of this is people making deals to buy items online or via Craig’s List in which the buyer sends what appears to be payment in an amount that is greater than the sell price and asks the victim to send a refund for the excess amount.

There are many more that I could list here including variations of the above.  In short, be very cautious of any email or phone solicitation where you cannot personally verify the validity of the offer.


Patrol Division Awards

In December, the Patrol Division had an awards ceremony.  Deputies received uniform pins for meeting certain criteria established in policy such as being certified instructors and field training officers, years of service, firearms qualifications scores, and advanced and specialty certifications. 

Two special awards were made at this ceremony.   Deputy Frank Smith was chosen as the Patrol Division Deputy of the Year.  Deputy Smith has over twenty-five years of service as a peace officer.  Sergeant Shane Partain was awarded the Medal of Valor on Jones Road in February of 2011.


Wreck Analysis 

Captain Williams, our E-911 Director, recently conducted an analysis of dispatch data to determine the locations in Oconee where the most wrecks occur and which areas have the most wrecks with injuries over the last three years.  There were 29 locations with 20 or more wrecks in that time period with one location topping 300 wrecks and five locations topping 200 wrecks.  There were 29 locations with instances of five or more wrecks with injuries.  Three of these locations had twenty or more such instances.


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