RPD: Winter weather affects police response times, here’s how you can help

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Winter is coming in full force. If you’re a driver who has been out on the roads this week, chances are you had to adjust your speed and plan out time to brush off your car.  

Imagine being a police officer and having to respond to an emergency in these extreme winter conditions.

Ice, snow, wind – you name it.

“Obviously we want our officers to slow down, make sure cars are cleared off before,” said Carlos Alvarado, Public Information Officer with Rochester Police Department. Alvarado says he’s been an officer for almost 25 years.

He says they want to be prepared at any time, no matter the weather, to respond to emergencies fast.

“Like other drivers, we’re human, sometimes we hit sheets of ice, we are trained professionals but at the end of the day accidents do occur,” said Alvarado.

But there are ways you can help as a driver when you share the road with officers.

And in turn, officers can better help you.

“Biggest concern is people not moving over [when responding to an emergency], or if people don’t brush off vehicles, that’s a concern for us if they don’t see us it’s hard for us to move over,” said Alvarado. “And if you don’t have to be on the road during heavy snowfall or winter storms, please don’t be on the road.”

Police have been struggling with staffing shortages throughout the pandemic, affecting things like response times already.

Alvarado says with the amount of calls 2021 brought, heading into the holidays is a little concerning.

Here’s the good news: data from Rochester police over the past 5 years shows crime does tend to decrease in the winter. The highest number of calls appearing to be around July and August, and the lowest around February.

Alvarado says you can’t forecast the crime – but they always find a way to make it work.

“We’ll get there we’re dedicated, to getting to the emergencies regardless of the weather,” he said.             

Officers also take a defensive driving course at the beginning of their career. Part of that certification includes teaching them how to drive in all conditions.

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