There’s a new storm coming in the wake of the heaviest snowfall that Southington has seen in decades, but this one is political, not weather-related.
Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback is appealing to the governor after two plows were taken off of town roads last week when a Connecticut State Trooper ticketed them for various operating violations.
The town attempted to appeal to the trooper, Brumback said in his letter to the governor dated Feb. 14, but despite interactions with both Trooper Feest and a major in the state police’s command office, the town was unable to gain any assistance in addressing the issue.
“I recognize this may have been his right, however, it was the most rude and unprofessional action I can imagine during an emergency,” Brumback said in the letter. “My police captain confronted the officer but met with no success.”
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The letter, obtained by Southington Patch earlier today, displays concerns that the trooper was impeding efforts by the town to make travel safe again. The town was in the process of street widening and was clearing areas around the schools to prepare for children to return the following day, town officials said, but state police are maintaining that the tickets were justly given.
The tickets were issued on Feb. 13, according to state police records.
Lt. J. Paul Vance, spokesman with the Connecticut State Police, said Wednesday that the tickets were issued for clear violations of state law and investigation into the issue found that the citations were “legal, proper and appropriate given the circumstances.”
“It happened on (Wednesday) and the state of emergency had basically concluded. The storm was long over and the roads reopened. Everyone has to abide by rules,” Vance said.
According to state police, the first driver was working for the town on street widening efforts when the trooper discovered that he was using an unregistered vehicle. State police issued a citation for operating an unregistered motor vehicle and improper use of a license plate. The license plate was seized and the driver was issued the citation.
In the second incident, Vance said an investigation revealed that a driver using a payloader was working for a private commercial entity along Queen Street and was conducting work in a manner that made travel unsafe. Police reports indicate that the driver was placing snow back in the roadway and was also entering the road in the payloader.
Brumback was not immediately available for further comment Wednesday. Malloy requested that all questions be directed to state police.
The blizzard, which dropped 30 inches of snow in town with snow drifts upwards of four to five feet in some areas, left the town struggling to remove snow and as of Wednesday, the town’s schools remained closed. Brumback said in his letter that he disagrees with the tickets and they negatively impacted recovery efforts.
“Aside from directly interfering with our town’s ability to clean up after the storm it begs the question ‘If state troopers have nothing better to do than interfere in jurisdictions with a first class police department of our own, do we have too many troopers?” Brumback asks in the letter.
The complete text of the letter to the governor is as follows:
Subject: Request for Assistance
Thank you for all you and your team has done to assist the Towns as we recover from Winter Storm Charlotte. I was particularly grateful for your direct call offering state resources to help our efforts. While we didn’t need them, we truly appreciate the offer.
We do have an issue that I wanted to bring to your attention as it reflects badly on government in general and the State Police in particular. On the morning of February 13, 2013 our town staff along with our contractors were still decisively engaged in road way clearing and snow removal. In the middle of this we had a state trooper named Feest badge number 1332 decide to take it upon himself to pull over two people who were plowing our streets and cite them for registration issues. I recognize this may have been his right, however, it was the most rude and unprofessional action I can imagine during an emergency. My police captain confronted the officer but met with no success.
Southington Chief of Police called a Major in the State Police Commander’s office also with no satisfaction.
Aside from directly interfering with our town’s ability to clean up after the storm it begs the question “If state troopers have nothing better to do than interfere in jurisdictions with a 1st class police department of our own, do we have too many troopers”.
Thanks for listening and I would appreciate anything you can do to keep this from happening again.
Garry Brumback, ICMA-CM
What are your thoughts on the tickets? Were they proper and necessary? Should action be taken to prevent this type of issue with future storms? Share your thoughts below.
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