By BOB OLIVER
HEIGHTS — Several concerned citizens called the Police Department after hearing the city’s emergency sirens during the last snowstorm only to be told that it was a new initiative created to quickly warn residents about snow emergencies.
Police Chief Lee Gavin addressed the City Council on the change at its Jan. 14 meeting.
“When a snow emergency is declared, we notify television stations and local radio and now we’ll set off the sirens,” Gavin said. “It’s another tool to help notify residents about the emergency.”
He said the decision recently was made after meeting with emergency management in the city and reminded residents to get their vehicles off the streets during emergency situations.
“If heavy snow is coming, more than a couple inches, try to get your vehicle off the street,” Gavin said, “that way the plows can get through and be more effective and efficient.”
He said surrounding communities, such as Dearborn and Garden City, also have sirens that get set off to warn residents of snow emergencies and that now Dearborn Heights will do the same thing to spread the word about inclement weather.
Emergency Manager Bob Ankrapp said a notice concerning the change was placed on the city’s website and that if anyone hears the sirens during the winter months they should assume it’s for a snow emergency.
Gavin said the Police Department has issued over 230 violations to vehicles parked in the streets during the two emergencies declared this year.
“We don’t like to go around and issue violations, but if that’s what we’ve got to do to get the streets cleared, that’s what we’ll do,” Gavin said. “We’ve had too many vehicles left on the street and it slows down the DPW and emergency vehicles.”
During a snow emergency, vehicles must be removed from city streets to allow for snow plowing and those not removed may be ticketed and are subject to towing.
Councilwoman Lisa Hicks-Clayton told Gavin she had received many calls from residents praising the snow clearing efforts of city employees while Councilman Thomas Berry thanked city employees for still coming in to work during the emergencies.
The council next meets Jan. 28.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected])