Increased law enforcement presence on Hwy 80 to Tybee during July 4 weekend

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - Tybee Island leaders are preparing for what will surely be a busy July 4th weekend.

This year they're taking it one step further, adding a law enforcement presence to Highway 80.

Minor wrecks shut down the road at the Bull River Bridge three separate times over Memorial Day weekend. With that in mind, the mayor requested more help from the Georgia State Patrol and Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department.

They also deputized their officers. That gives them jurisdiction to make arrests and write tickets outside off the island.

They moved their firework show to July 4 so that it would be at the same time as Savannah's show. Even with that, they're still expecting huge crowds and they hope that law enforcement presence makes people drive smarter.

"Nobody wants to get a ticket but at the same time, we want to make sure people are safe and sometimes the only way to keep people from texting and driving or drinking while driving is to have more police presence. We hope that having more presence from multiple jurisdictions will certainly help," said Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman.

Traffic will only get thicker as the holiday weekend gets underway. Locals know that first hand.

"I do my grocery shopping before the holiday, and then don't leave," said resident Jan Will.

"I, personally, got caught on the bridge for about 45 minutes on Memorial Day, and it's just not fun for the residents getting on and off even to do a little shopping off the island," said Kitty Williams.

Williams needs the roads open for her garage sale this weekend. Over Memorial Day weekend, the minor wrecks completely blocked traffic on and off the island for hours.

"We don't want that to happen so we're making sure there's more police presence out there," said Buelterman.

The mayor hopes the teamwork by all three agencies will make that a reality.

WTOC rode with an officer Friday. They can now write tickets and make arrests off Tybee after getting deputized.

"I think just our presence alone will make a difference," said Lt. Bertram Whitley with the Tybee Island PD.

Once you're on the island, be prepared for larger than normal crowds.

"They should slow down, pay attention to their surroundings," said Whitley.

Also, be prepared for a heavy police presence on the island.

"When we have crowds like that, it's important that we beef up our patrols and have more people on the streets and the highways to make sure everybody is being safe for the weekend," said Whitley.

A big step in that will be ensuring drivers stay safe on the way. Police hope this added presence delivers that result.

Copyright 2017 WTOC. All rights reserved.