Roland is authorized to patrol I-40
Since the Roland Police Department was granted reauthorization to patrol I-40 on Dec. 1, Roland Chief of Police Tommy Sessums said officers have been responsible for three drug-related arrests and confiscating illegal drugs.
According to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Commissioner Rusty Rhoades, the town of Roland has achieved compliance with statutory guidelines to perform “interdiction of the portions of Interstate 40 of the Interstate Highway System located within the municipal boundaries of the town of Roland.”
“We will be patrolling about three miles of I-40. We were granted the authorization in November but we couldn’t begin until on Dec. 1,” Sessums said.
Sessums said the town has not patrolled I-40 since 2007 after the state notified Roland the town was “over revenue” and not in compliance with state statutes.
DPS Spokesperson Sarah Stewart agreed that was one of the main reasons and the municipality failed to comply with other statutory guidelines established by the DPS to patrol Oklahoma highways.
In accordance to the compliance letter, the municipality is required to provide “quarterly reports of compliance to the Commissioner’s office which began Dec. 1, 2018, and every 90 days thereafter.”
They are also to “insure any and all municipal law enforcement receive additional safety training appropriate for performing interdiction as required by the Chief of the Patrol prior to those officers beginning to perform interdiction; and provide documentation of completion of said training to the Chief of Patrol no later than 30 days from the date of this letter.”
Mayor of Roland Jimmy Peterson wrote a letter on behalf of Roland in August requesting the town’s police department be allowed to patrol “to perform interdiction services on those portions of the Interstate Highway System (I-40) which are located within the municipal boundaries of the Town of Roland. “The town is now in compliance with the law as stated in such statute,” Peterson wrote.
“The town will be willing to provide period reports evidencing such compliance as directed by the Commissioner and the Department of Public Safety,” Peterson wrote.
“In addition, the town will ensure that any officers allowed to operate on the Interstate Highways will receive additional safety training related to ensure that Public Safety is ensured for both the officers and the public.”
Sessums said his officers have completed the additional training required to perform their official duties while patrolling the interstate.
While the department has been accused of writing an excessive amount of speeding tickets from individuals from the past, Sessums said patrolling the interstate is “not just” about speeding.
“Our authorization is to perform interdiction on portions of I-40 for felony-related crimes such as drug or human trafficking and that’s what our officers are trained to look for,” Sessums said.
“We have between 20 to 22 thousand vehicles that come through here a day, there are going to be people who are speeding and they may get pulled over, but we don’t issue citations unless they are going around 11 miles over the speed limit,” Sessums said.
Sessums added that with so many businesses located along U.S. Highway 64, there are vehicles which pull out and can be hazardous when automobiles are speeding along that highway, also.
“There are times we have had people coming through 70 miles per hour on our highway and our speed limit is 45,” Sessums said.
“But with that much traffic coming through, we still must look after the safety of the public. Many people appreciate that especially when there are so many accidents that occur along the interstate and our highways.”