Warren County sheriff explains why no snow emergency declared

All other counties in region were under snow emergencies during winter storm.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

While the entire region was under a snow emergency for most of Thursday and Friday, that was not the case in Warren County.

Ohio law gives statutory authority to the county sheriff to declare snow emergencies, but the sheriff also has the discretion whether to make that declaration.

Warren County Sheriff Larry Sims said early in his 14-year tenure, his office did issue snow emergency declarations.

“However, that created more confusion and phone calls,” he said. “And that wasn’t enough as some people contacted us to write notes to employers so they could take the day off. I just think it can be misused and is misunderstood.”

Since 2012, Sims has not used his snow emergency authority and said there have been few complaints made to his office. For this storm, only two or three people have complained to him about it, he said.

“I have faith in people to use their good judgment to decide if they need to go out or not,” Sims said. “The expectation is that we want everyone to be safe, be aware of the weather conditions, use their own good judgment and communicate with their employers.”

People are welcome to contact the dispatch center about road conditions., he said.

Sims said there will be complaints no matter what decision is made and he is not trying to be disrespectful of other county sheriffs who made snow emergency declarations.

“I respect my colleagues who issue them but this is how it’s been working in Warren County,” Sims said. “The roads are nasty but our staff is here. All we ask is that people use caution.”

There are three levels of snow emergency in Ohio:

LEVEL 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads are also icy. Drive very cautiously.

LEVEL 2: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roadways. Contact your employer to see if you should report to work.

LEVEL 3: All roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one should be out during these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary to travel. All employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work. However, those traveling on the roadways may subject themselves to prosecution.

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