RNC in storm mode as blizzard batters eastern N.L.

‘A different kind of busy’ … With hardly any traffic and fewer calls for service, snowstorms give officers chance to do followups

Published on February 14, 2017

RNC street patrol members Const. Devon Thompson (driving) and Const. Andrew Smith take a swing along Water Street in St. John's on patrol during Tuesday's winter storm.l

©Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

If there’s one word to describe what a typical RNC officer’s shift is like during snowstorms, it would be — different, according to RNC’s media relations officer.

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“It’s not a typical day. That’s for sure,” Const. Geoff Higdon told The Telegram Tuesday morning as a blizzard, with forecasts of up to 70 centimetres of snow, began raging in eastern part of the province.

“It’s a very different day.”

Not only is there less traffic to deal with, but also less crime in general, he said.

“Traffic is not our focus because there’s hardly any traffic on the roads during days like this,” Higdon said. “On my way to work this morning, I probably saw five or six cars.”

Nonetheless, he said, officers are still out there on patrol looking for any motorist who may need help.

“When the weather is good, there’s lots of traffic around and many people who would report an accident if they see one, but with less traffic, it’s less likely we would be informed, so our officers make sure people are not in distress,” said Higdon, noting some people still have to work or get to the hospital.

“It can be scary for anyone who has to be on the road on days like this.”

Higdon said more traffic accidents happen when it’s snowing and businesses and schools are still open.

“People can be frantic. A lot of people are not comfortable driving in snow or their vehicle is not ready for the conditions,” he said.

But on days like today, things are normally pretty quiet, he said.

Since most people are home, residential break-ins are less likely, he said, but there are also low numbers of commercial break-ins.

“The radio is usually very quiet,” he said.

That gives many officers a chance to follow up on other files they’ve been working on, Higdon said.

“We’re busy, but it’s a different kind of busy,” he said.

He said it’s often a nice change for officers, who get to drive the SUVs and trucks instead of patrol cars, and get to double up in the vehicles rather than taking a second vehicle.

“It’s always nice when you get to drive with someone else,” he said. “It’s something we don’t get to do on other days.”



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