Officials with the Marshall County Sheriff's Department said they have tried for several months to work with energy companies and their subcontractors to create a better working relationship with county residents.
However, Chief Deputy Sheriff Kevin Cecil said this week that the time for working with contractors and subcontractors has passed and that his department will begin cracking down on violations that are observed or reported. Speaking to the Marshall County Energy Exploration Task Force, Cecil said it seems the same companies and contractors are repeating the same actions despite being warned.
"We've tried to talk to the drivers and contractors to try to get them to become better neighbors and, in our opinion, that hasn't worked well," he said. "When we continue to stop the same vehicles and companies for the same violations, it is time to do something else."
Cecil said his deputies will begin writing citations more often for less serious violations instead of giving warnings. He added when companies first started moving into the area, they were doing so in the southern part of the county where there is less population. However, now that operations have picked up in more heavily populated areas, the department is receiving more reports from citizens and seeing more violations firsthand.
"In these very populated areas, there are thousands of eyes watching as opposed to hundreds when they were in the southern part of the county," he said.
Recent violations Cecil said he has witnessed deal with flag crews, many of whom he said are inconsiderate of local traffic. He said some crews are stopping local traffic to allow one truck to pull onto the roadway, which he believes is not a good practice.
"We're trying to let these companies know that one of the reasons people are mad and frustrated is because they feel companies are not considerate of them," he said. "The way I see it, they should be letting local traffic go just like everyone else pulling onto a major roadway."
Cecil said depending on the violation, the driver, contractor or company itself could be cited. He referenced a flag crew that was shut down earlier this week for not having proper signage or safety equipment as an example of a company being held responsible for a citation.
"The company in that instance was responsible to provide that equipment, and they failed to do so," he said, adding most traffic violations would be issued to the individual driver.