NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–City police made a lot of noise until about 1am on February 17, alerting residents on main roads that their cars would be ticketed and towed if they were not moved to facilitate plowing operations.
The storm was predicted long before the NBPD set out on their mission, and the city announced the “snow emergency” via their Nixle emergency alert system at 8:35pm.
Yet it was not until shortly before 11pm that police vehicles driving down Suydam Street were captured on video using sirens and their loudspeakers to alert residents of the decision, waking many of them up.
The announcements sent several blocks in the heart of the city into a frenzy, forcing renters, homeowners, and visitors to move their vehicles onto already crowded streets nearby.
Others, were not so lucky, and their vehicles were towed.
Sources on the other side of town said people living on Hamilton and Easton Avenues were alerted in the same fashion well after midnight, as late as 1am.
“I do not have any information as to when police went out to alert residents to move cars off snow routes,” said New Brunswick city spokesperson Jennifer Bradshaw.
At 8:35pm the city issued a Nixle alert telling the public, “Vehicles must be removed from designated snow emergency routes when the road is snow covered. Plowing will begin shortly after.”
The alert did not mention whether or not residents would be able to move their cars into the New Brunswick Parking Authority’s parking garages, though the authority had tweeted about it as early as 2:04pm.
A subsequent alert at 10:45pm told the public that they could enjoy free parking in five of the city’s nine decks, but only until 8am. The NBPA eventually extended the free parking offer the following morning.
“The NBPA bases the opening of the garages if the forecast calls for 3 or more inches of snow,” said Mitch Karon.
“The NBPA does not necessarily base its snow parking only if the City calls a snow emergency. There have been times we opened the garages to residents but no snow emergency was called. Obviously the City calling a snow emergency takes precedence when making a decision to open the garages to residents.”
New Brunswick Police Captain JT Miller, a spokesperon for the department and its Director Anthony Caputo, did not respond to a request for information about the decision to use loudspeakers and sirens to alert the public late at night.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.