AKRON, Ohio — In addition to solving crimes and responding to accidents, some Akron police officers are also digging out to help residents get through this tough winter.
Officers Cameron McGowan and Ty Taylor said an avalanche of mini-rescues came to a head on Thursday when a major winter storm invaded Summit County, causing drivers to spin their wheels and get stuck all over town.
"Honestly, I couldn't even count. Yesterday [Thursday], that's pretty much all we did was pretty much ride most of the main streets and help people get unstuck and get up hills or get around corners," McGowan said.
Even before the winter blast, the officers found a way a help a senior citizen and their efforts are getting attention on social media, including on the APD Facebook page.
Akron city officials issued a snow parking ban on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the storm to make room for plows.
That same day, a concerned resident on Edgerton Road called police to report his concern about cars parked in the street.
"There's at least four cars parked in the street," the caller said. "People could be parking in their driveways, but I don't know, for one reason or another, they're not."
McGowan and Taylor responded and learned the owner of one of the cars was a senior citizen who was worried she couldn't get her car back into her driveway because of snow and ice build-up from a previous storm.
"She had trouble getting down there. She didn't want to hurt herself, slip or fall or anything like that," Taylor said.
It didn't take long for Taylor to come up with a solution which was captured on body camera during a conversation with the homeowner.
"Do you have a shovel?" Taylor asked. The resident responded, "Yeah, I do." Taylor then quickly said, "I'll take care of it right now if you want."
Moments later, Taylor went to work by salting, breaking up ice and snow and then shoveling it, clearing the driveway for the woman's car.
"Honestly, that's what we do for people. We're here to help people. Everything is not just about crime. Sometimes we're just trying to do public service," Taylor said.
The homeowner, who did not want her name used, said she was grateful to the officers.
"I so appreciate the two gentlemen that helped me get my car into my driveway. I guess their families gave them a very good upbringing," she said.
Akron police have discretion to ticket or tow when a snow parking ban is in place, but they said they try to avoid both options unless there's a safety concern with a vehicle in the street.
"The first goal is always to reach out to that person and make a connection and actually encourage them to move the vehicle, or in this case, help them move the vehicle so that they don't get towed," McGowan said.
While some may consider the actions of officers as going above and beyond, they feel it's just part of the job and they stand ready for the next winter challenge.
"Please try to shovel your driveway, but if you're having a little bit of trouble and we're around, we'll try to help you out," Taylor said.