ARAB, Ala. -- While just about everything else is closed for the winter weather on Tuesday, law enforcement officers are still out doing their jobs in vehicles that stray from the norm.
When the roads get slick officers with the Arab Police Department use Humvees to get around. "You can see where people hit the guard rail," said Chief Ed Ralston, as we drove on a steep and narrow stretch of road in a rural part of the department's jurisdiction.
When some of those secondary roads become icy travel is tough going, even for police vehicles. "With our jurisdiction covering four counties, we've got a big area to patrol. A lot of it is not maintained by the state so it's hard for us to get a regular two-wheel drive Tahoe or police vehicle into some of those areas," Ralston explained.
After the April 2011 tornadoes, the officers were having a hard time navigating through the damage so they looked to something more durable. The department bought four Humvees through a government surplus program.
Since then, Ralston says they've come in handy during snow and ice events. "Traditionally in police work, you want to get to a call as quickly as you can and I worry about [the officers] forgetting about the hazards of the road and running across a patch of ice or something."
The vehicles aren't equipped like the regular patrol cars, but the officers have the gear they need to communicate with the dispatcher back at the station. "We'll generally team up, two in one of these vehicles, that way you've got somebody there if you do have to transport, you've got another officer who can watch that individual while the other officer drives," Ralston said, "So we can do what we need to in these vehicles. It's just a little bit different from the Tahoe."
The officers can also use the Humvees to transport medical personnel and other responders to their jobs if need be.