When snow and ice fall on Minden and Webster Parish streets and roads, drivers are urged to stay at home and off the roads except in case of emergency. Those warnings come from the men and women who have to be on the streets and roads regardless of the weather conditions.
“It’s days like this when we often have to work the hardest,” Webster Parish Chief Deputy Bobby Igo Sr. said Wednesday afternoon. “So far, it hasn’t been as bad as we thought it might be, but the worst could be yet to come.”
When sleet and freezing rain hit Minden earlier this week, Webster Parish deputies and reserves and Minden police officers were on patrol, checking road conditions and making themselves as visible as possible.
“Being visible. That’s what we depend on as much as anything when there are dangerous driving conditions,” Minden Chief of Police Steve Cropper said. “If drivers see us, they have a tendency to drive more carefully. And with these types of street conditions, they need to slow down and be alert.”
During icy conditions, both Igo and Cropper say the focus of their officers and deputies is more on safety than enforcement.
“When you make a traffic stop on a day like today (Wednesday), you’re potentially endangering yourself and the public,” Igo said. “It has to be a pretty blatant offense for us to make a stop. But, we’re watching for people traveling at an unsafe speed. You have to remember that though the speed limit may be 35, that still may be too fast for road conditions.”
“Our officers know that being seen by drivers is the best deterrent, especially if the road conditions are dangerous,” Cropper said. “We will be on the move, not setting up somewhere to monitor traffic. With the snow falling like it was earlier (Wednesday) and collecting on the streets, it’s critical that we constantly check the driving conditions.”
“I drive every street I can when the roads are icing over or there’s the potential for hazardous conditions,” MPD Sgt. Joel Kendrick said while on patrol Wednesday. “We’re more interested in getting everyone home safely than just about anything else at this time.”
By late afternoon Wednesday, only one traffic accident involving more than one vehicle had been reported in Minden. In that Pine Street
collision, no serious injuries were reported when police say the driver didn’t negotiate a curve and struck another vehicle on the driver’s side.
“We’ve been working a few accidents where vehicles slid off the highway, but there’s been no property damage, no collisions and no major injuries. It’s been busy, but not unbelievable,” Igo said. “We’re not seeing much traffic, though, and the roads really have not been that bad.”
Covering a large road system in Webster Parish sometimes means additional manpower, especially when weather conditions deteriorate.
“We had several reserve deputies out assisting us several different times, and they were extremely helpful,” Igo said. “We have also had lots of our off-duty deputies call in and say they were available if needed, but we haven’t had to call anyone yet.”
At 4: 30 p.m. Wednesday, neither the sheriff’s office nor Minden police had received reports of power outages or road obstructions from falling limbs and trees. Igo says a brief outage had occurred on U.S. Hwy. 79 just across the Bienville Parish line, but that was temporary.