CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Thanksgiving is the busiest holiday of the year for the North Carolina Highway Patrol. The agency has beefed up staffing levels and at any given time there are 25 troopers patrolling Mecklenburg County.
"Hopefully today it will be quiet," said Trooper Charles Montgomery during a ride-along Wednesday.
Montgomery is a 24-year-old, three-year veteran of the Highway Patrol, but he’s only been in Mecklenburg County for 12 days.
"Working the interstate is dangerous. A lot of the motoring public is in a zone and they are not paying attention," said the Trooper.
NBC Charlotte rode with Montgomery and that quiet day he was hoping for didn’t get off to a quiet start.
Two troopers eating lunch at a University Area Chick-fil-A got flagged down by a merchant and they chased and caught a woman who was allegedly stealing.
"They spotted her and got into a foot pursuit everything is 10-4. Everything is fine," said Montgomery.
The Highway Patrol’s main goal isn’t catching shoplifters—it’s making sure everyone gets home alive.
“We’re at full staff and will be all weekend because it’s a holiday travel weekend. We’re basically targeting aggressive drivers, speeders, seat belt violators,” said Highway Patrol Sergeant Henry Dorty.
Troopers are trying to get drivers to slow down and their weapon of choice is tickets. They hope if drivers see enough blue lights they will get the message.