By Shereen Siewert
The Wausau Police Department will dismiss all 128 snow emergency citations written Sunday night, according to a Facebook post by Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven.
“Part of accountability is accepting responsibility when mistakes are made,” Bliven said.
The chief went on to explain that the purpose of a snow emergency is to ensure workers can clear streets from a large snowfall without navigating around parked vehicles — which can lead to snow mounds left in the middle of the street and a traffic hazard.
The most recent snow emergency, for 9 p.m. Sunday into 10 a.m. Monday, was communicated to residents at about 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, which was based on the best estimate for the approaching storm.
But Mother Nature had other ideas, and the storm arrived earlier than expected. Plows and crews were largely finished by the time the snow emergency began, Bliven said.
The Wausau Police Department wrote snow emergency tickets between midnight and 5 a.m. The roads were mostly clear at that time and there were no snow removal operations occurring, Bliven said.
“I want to be clear that our staff did their job correctly by writing citations during the hours declared as a snow emergency,” Bliven said. “This was my mistake for not addressing the timing of the snow emergency declaration.”
As a result, Bliven said it is best and most reasonable to dismiss the citations written. Residents who already paid the citation will receive a check in the mail. Unpaid citations from Sunday into Monday have been dismissed.
“In the future, we will declare snow emergencies closer to the start of the snow storm so the times of the no parking restrictions are more accurate,” Bliven said. “Please accept my apology for missing the mark on the snow emergency declaration and the issuance of citations.”
In case you are wondering, Bliven said, the department will not be voiding tickets from prior snow emergencies as those tickets were issued appropriately.
Anyone with questions over whether a citation will be voided should call the records department at 715-261-7800 or email email@example.com during business hours.