Sheriff’s office talks snow day challenges

Published 12:44 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2017


The snow storm on Dec. 8 brought the most snow seen in the area since the “Snowpocalypse” of 2014. For most people, the snow day meant no school, work from home or no work at all.

But a snow day is very different for law enforcement officers.

Shane Mayfield, assistant chief deputy of the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office, said Friday’s winter weather event meant longer hours and unnecessary hindrances to actual emergencies for many deputies.

“We had several extra deputies out during the night because of the increased call volume on road hazard,” Mayfield said. “Our biggest suggestion to everyone during severe road conditions is to stay off the road unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

Before the incidents wrought by winter’s icy touch and southerners’ joy riding during this “Christmas miracle,” the sheriff’s office was already managing typical events for any day — typical to a law enforcement officer, that is.

“We started Friday morning with a death investigation on a 3-month-old. We had a foot pursuit on a felon in possession of a firearm, made arrests on outstanding warrants, a day shift patrol deputy observed a burglary/theft in progress in Cooper and made two arrests,” Mayfield listed.

(The infant is currently in autopsy for an expected drug related cause of death, and the felon was apprehended several nights later, according to Mayfield.)

Mayfield said the evening of Dec. 8 issued a search in the national forest for a missing hunter, who was later determined to have been involved in a car accident in Calera on his way to hunt and was hospitalized at UAB.

These incidents were separate from weather related events, which accumulated a full day’s worth of downed power lines, tree limbs and other road hazards.

Other calls distracted deputies from handling truly urgent emergencies.

“Every additional stranded motorist and every additional vehicle slid off the road taxes and already taxed 9-1-1 and all the emergency services,” Mayfield said.

“Yes, it’s (dense snow accumulation is) a once every couple of years thing in Alabama, and we love to play [in] it and look at all the beautiful scenes,” he said. “However, doing donuts in the middle of public road causes issues. Yes, we had some of that and more.”

Mayfield said it is just unnecessary.

“These avoidable calls for service could keep deputies or fire/rescue personnel away from a true emergency, not to mention putting the lives of the emergency service workers at risk and the hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment they use,” Mayfield said. “The common sense rule is still in effect even when Ole Man Winter comes to town.”