JOHNS CREEK — State investigators are looking into whether private security guards in upscale neighborhoods outside Atlanta are allowed to make traffic stops.
The investigation comes after WSB-TV reported on drivers being pulled over by security guards who are not police officers, but wear official-looking uniforms and drive vehicles with flashing lights.
The officers issue traffic tickets, with the money going to the homeowners associations in the gated communities.
Former police officer Bob Lowe said he was pulled over this year by a security guard in the St. Ives Country Club in Johns Creek. He filed a complaint with Georgia’s Board of Private Detectives and Security Agencies, which falls under the purview of the Georgia Secretary of State.
Such traffic stops have raised questions about safety, since real police officers often face hidden dangers when pulling over motorists.
A traffic stop “is the most dangerous situation that an officer can get themselves into,” said Ken Vance, director of Georgia’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.
As head of the state agency which certifies police officers, Vance has also written a letter to Georgia’s Secretary of State to express his concerns about the practice.
Vance cited “significant danger to the security officer” as well as “possible civil liberty violations” of the drivers.
“I want them to take a very serious look at it, and I think they will. I think it’s a dangerous practice,” Vance said.
An attorney for St. Marlo Country Club in south Forsyth County said in a statement to the Atlanta TV station that “traffic stops are voluntary” and the citation methods “are reasonable and do not violate public policy.”