For the city street department, the storm also came at a time when
manpower was very low for various reasons.
According to an email
from Mayor Keith Snyder, there have been some negative comments that
the city, in a collaborative effort to get the city streets plowed,
called on police and fire department personnel to help fill the gaps
for the street department crew.
On Thursday afternoon, Snyder sent out the email explaining what
had happened and how. He punctuated his explanation with the comment
that in his opinion, the effort to join forces and have the
departments work together to get through the storm was commendable
and something he would support doing again.
The City absolutely
used members of the Lincoln Police Department in recent snow removal
efforts. Their assistance was invaluable, and we greatly appreciate
their willingness to help.
Here is how the
situation developed. It basically involved manpower issues.
Department typically has eight employees in the Department. One
employee, however, is currently on disability and unable to work.
Shortly before Christmas a second employee could not work due to an
eye issue. That left six available Street Department employees.
When the forecast
for last weekend began to show we could get considerable snow
followed by extreme cold, we began to evaluate available manpower.
Leading into this past weekend, we learned we could be down two
additional workers. One had a wedding of a child over the weekend
and another was leaving the country to participate in a long-planned
mission trip. If both were unavailable, we would have been left with
four available workers.
Given that we were
just coming off the New Year's holiday and the snow that occurred
then, we only had a few days to assemble a larger crew to respond to
the upcoming storm. We did not have time to hire outside employees.
We would have had to advertise, interview, conduct background
checks, and clear any prospective employee with the City's
[to top of second column]
Instead, we put out a call for any Police or Fire Department
employees who hold a CDL license and who may have had prior plowing
experience or were interested in plowing. They would have the proper
licensure, they are already employees, and they are covered by our
We ended up using
three members of the Police Department who all had prior plowing
experience (two, in fact, had plowed previously for IDOT) plus Chief
Ken Greenslate. They all have the required CDL licenses. They plowed
many hours and did a great job.
In no case were the
Police Department duties of any of the officers compromised,
ignored, or neglected. All of the Police Department members utilized
did this service above & beyond their regular Police duties.
This was a matter
of the City being very resourceful to address an upcoming emergency
that was going to impact our entire community. We were quite
fortunate that these public servants were willing to assist the
City, its residents, and the Street Department in this manner.
emergencies and manpower shortages overlap in the future, I, for
one, would like to expand our use of Police and even Fire Department
employees to assist with snow removal efforts. It's clearly a
win-win for everyone. The City will be de-briefing about each
department's experience with this most recent storm next week, and I
would fully expect the further use of non-Street Department
employees to be fully explored.
The City Council
was fully aware before the storm of our intention to use Police
Department employees to assist with snow removal. Like nearly
everyone, they were appreciative of the help those employees
[LDN with text from Mayor Keith Snyder]