Police in Bloomington-Normal see few crashes but plenty of stranded drivers
Police in Bloomington-Normal said Thursday they still want drivers to stay off the roads unless it's necessary after a storm dumped nearly a foot of snow in McLean County.
Bloomington Police officer John Fermon said police have responded to fewer accidents than usual because a lot fewer people are driving — but they had more than 75 vehicle assists on the first day of the storm.
“From all that we are seeing, they can’t drive fast, and then they drive slow and they are still getting stuck,” Fermon said.
Fermon said the department received five vehicle crash reports during the first day of the storm, noting one Bloomington police officer also got stuck in the snow while on a service call.
Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner said his department had only one crash report in the first 24 hours of the storm and about two dozen vehicle assist calls. Bleichner said their biggest challenge was helping plow trucks get to where they needed to go.
“We assist with our public works department when we would have our plow trucks that may have some difficulty getting down a certain area, whether that be relocating or towing vehicles out of the way so they can get the plows through,” Bleichner said. “That was typically only done on a complaint basis.”
Bleichner said roads are in better shape now, but it's still best to stay home.
The McLean County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) reported police in the county responded 32 accidents and 165 motorist assists during the first day of the storm.
Fermon said several officers slept in their squad cars or stayed overnight in the city's unused fire station to avoid the ride home on treacherous roads.
"We are expected to work 24-7, same with public works, same with the fire department. So, we figure out a way to make it happen,” he said.
Bleichner said he’s aware some NPD officers who live outside of town made arrangements to stay with other officers so they would not miss a shift, but he added some non-patrol staff were not able to make it in on Thursday.