Senate Bill 308 and Traffic Direction

A recent report was aired by WMAZ out of Macon, Georgia, in which Bibb County School District Police Chief DeCoursey was purported as citing a 2010 revision to Georgia’s weapon carry laws as removing his officers’ authority to direct traffic on streets adjacent to campus properties. It should be noted that the original story at the link has been updated by WMAZ with comments from State Senator Mitch Seabaugh, the primary sponsor of the bill. The video at the link still airs in its original format.

I contacted State Representative Terry England concerning the story. Representative England was in the General Assembly in 2010, and he voted in favor of SB308. He told me that he did not believe that anything in the bill changed the jurisdiction of the campus police.

After viewing the report, I contacted Chief DeCoursey, and asked him to cite the provision in Senate Bill 308 that prohibited officers from directing traffic in front of schools. He cited section 1.4 of the bill and its change in the definition of the term “school safety zone”. He told me that the department’s legal counsel interpreted the definition of “school safety zone” as the jurisdictional boundary for his agency and that the change brought about by the code section revision thus in turn limited his agency’s jurisdiction to the real property boundaries actual campus properties.

I want to make it clear that the conversation was respectful and courteous on both sides and that Chief DeCoursey did not at any time express any opposition to citizens legally carrying firearms. With that being said, I disagree with the interpretation of the law being put forth by the Chief. The cited provision of Senate Bill 308 altered the definition of “school safety zone” as it applied to code section 16-11-1271 O.C.G.A. The code section in question in both its current and former versions pertains only to the carry of weapons. The very words in the code section are “As used in this code section” just prior to defining the term “school safety zone”; therefore, the subsequent definition applies only to the particular code section in question. The code section, past or present, does not address the jurisdictional boundaries of school system police. School system police are established under 20-8-5 O.C.G.A.

I invite the readers of this article to research case law and the relevant code sections and show otherwise.

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