February 15, 2014

Curfew was the right call for public safety

The Daily Citizen

— Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb made the right call last week when imposing a curfew on Whitfield County, though the county should have made a better effort to make people aware of the curfew.

Babb authorized a curfew from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Thursday after consulting with Emergency Management Director Claude Craig.

At the time Babb made his decision, the area had just gotten several inches of snow, was still in near-freezing temperatures and was facing forecasts for significant amounts of snow and freezing rain that night.

Calling for a curfew made sense.

The move helped keep drivers off local roads, allowing public works greater access to keep them clear.

Keeping drivers off the road also ensured stalled, wrecked and abandoned cars would not block firefighters and emergency medical technicians from reaching the scenes of emergencies. And keeping cars off the roads also reduced the odds that law enforcement and other emergency personnel would have to respond to wrecks.

It’s disheartening to hear that some local companies tried to require employees to report to work despite the curfew.

It may show just how little those companies value the safety of their employees or others.

Or it may show that they were not aware of the curfew. The county announced the curfew just a few hours before it took effect, and though it was reported on The Daily Citizen’s Facebook page and by some other media, many people said they were unaware of it.

If the county must enact another curfew, it should look to make the decision earlier. It may even be a good idea to use its CodeRed alert system to push the information out.

A curfew may well be a wise thing to put into place in emergencies but only if enough people are aware of it.