Shelton police patrol snowy roads in SUVs

Shelton Police Department officers on patrol during today’s snowstorm are all driving sports utility vehicles.

Police Chief Joel Hurliman said the department switches to all SUVs from regular patrol cars during major snowstorms.

The department uses both its own SUVs and borrows some from other city departments, such as the Office of Emergency Management, if needed.

During the daytime shift, there usually are five officers and one supervisor on patrol duty in Shelton.

Hurliman noted that Shelton’s geography and topography means it essentially has two kinds of weather zones — a coastal one in the southeastern part of the city and downtown, near the Housatonic River, and a hilly one in Huntington and especially the White Hills.

No major accidents so far

As of 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Hurliman said there had been no major accidents reported due to the snow.

He said accidents during large storms often happen toward the beginning of the weather event, when many drivers still are on the road. Once the intensity of a storm picks up, fewer motorists are moving around town.

Typical calls for help

During a storm, some of the typical calls that come into the Shelton police involve the need to provide emergency access for ambulances, snowblower accidents, and overexertion incidents.

With ambulances, the police will work with the Shelton Public Works Department to get roads plowed so an ambulance can reach a specific location.

People can injure their fingers in snowblowers by putting their fingers in the device to unclog it. Even if the snowblower has been turned off, leftover momentum can turn the auger.

“Never stick your fingers in there, even if it’s turned off,” Hurliman advised.

As for overexertion, Hurliman said people should shovel snow for short periods, taking breaks to rest between shifts.

On-street parking issues

The Shelton police work to keep parked cars from clogging roads, which can prevent city public crews from plowing them.

Hurliman said vehicles can be ticketed and towed, but not until after the department puts up temporary signs warning that vehicles might be towed.

While the department’s approach can be aggressive at times to ensure public safety, he said, it also tries to work with vehicle owners.

“If we post that we’ll be towing because the street is impassable and the vehicle isn’t moved, we’ll tow it,” Hurliman said.