By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — Valley police departments are joining forces in a statewide effort to curb aggressive driving.
And it seems to be working.
In a traffic stop made on Easter Sunday, state police at Stonington ran into more than they bargained for, according to police documents.
Jeremy Rickert, 20, of Shamokin, was pulled over at Shamokin and Race streets in Shamokin, but police said Rickert decided to speed away instead of stopping. Rickert didn’t make it very far because as he was pulling away, he slammed into a telephone pole, officers said.
Police found that Rickert was drunk and recovered $1,035, 9.5 grams of marijuana, 116 bags of heroin and 55 Percocet pills from his vehicle, court documents said. The street value of the drugs was more than $5,000.
That discovery led Stonington barracks commanding officer Shawn Toboz to call several police chiefs to discuss the importance of cooperation during the aggressive-driving initiative and the importance of efforts to clear roads of drunken drivers and possibly intercept drug activity.
“We are focusing on all of the above,” Toboz said. “Aggressive driving can lead to many things.”
Toboz said state police will work with Sunbury officers in the next few days as they tag team throughout the city.
“We are going to be highly present in the city,” he said. “And we will be working with several other departments in the next few weeks.”
Police Chiefs Ed Griffiths, of Shamokin, and Steve Mazzeo, of Sunbury, Coal Township patrolman Chad Yoder and Ralpho Township Sgt. Chris Kreisher joined Toboz and Cpl. George Ritchey, of state police at Stonington, to discuss the plan of attack.
“I thank all of these guys for coming here,” Toboz said. “We will be aggressive in trying to get drugs off the street and keeping drunken drivers off the roads.”
More than 350 municipal police forces and state police are targeting aggressive drivers through April 28. Police will concentrate enforcement efforts on roads known to have a high number of aggressive-driving crashes.
Aggressive driving includes speeding, running red lights and stop signs, tailgating and improper passing.
According to state Department of Transportation data, there were 6,725 aggressive-driving crashes in Pennsylvania last year. There were 183 fatalities in these crashes, an increase from 168 deaths in 2011.