Police using ATVs to reach those who need warmth - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Police using ATVs to reach those who need warmth

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The Columbia Police Department is going off-road to find people who may be trapped in the cold, ice and snow.

Members of the department's PACE, or ProActive Community Enforcement team, are patrolling the city on all-terrain vehicles.  They hit the streets Wednesday morning and will be on patrol throughout the night as temperatures drop below freezing on a city covered with ice and snow.

"Columbia's not used to this," said Sgt. Daniel Wesley with CPD.

"The mission today is to circulate and patrol the downtown area and areas that snowed in real bad," he said. "And we're trying to do, if people are stuck in snow or if there's homeless people or any individual that may have spent the night in the garages or whatever, we'll be able to find them."

Other team members are checking on the city's elderly residents to make sure they're warm and safe.

"They're making contact with the elderly throughout the city, checking on them to make sure they have proper heating, food and all the things they need to combat this weather," said Wesley.

Not only do the ATV's perform better in the ice and snow, they can get into places patrol cars can't reach.

"They're better vehicles to get into alleyways and areas that patrol cars can't get," said Wesley. "We don't want our patrol cars to get stuck or be in a situation where someone needs to be rescued and a patrol car can't effectively get to them. These ATVs can take these officers off-road into the snowy area, icy area, so we can locate these individuals and bring them to safety."

Wesley warns people not to let the melting snow Wednesday lead them to believe it will be safe on the roads at night.

"The roads are gonna' be real icy tonight," he said. "If you don't have to come out tonight, by all means don't."

Wesley said the ATVs were donated by Honda of Columbia.

If you need help from the Columbia Police Department, call the non-emergency number at 252-2911. If it's an emergency, call 911.

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