Winter isn’t messing around this year, and neither is the Gillette Police Department.
Two sets of “Track N Go” snow tracks have proven to be a godsend, as snow continues to pile up, particularly in some neighborhoods where the streets aren’t regularly plowed, Gillette PD Deputy Chief Brent Wasson told Cowboy State Daily.
That has led to some problems during past winters.
“We were having instances of officers getting their four-wheel-drive vehicles stuck while trying to respond to calls in some of the subdivisions,” he said.
Money Well Spent
The department last year budgeted roughly $60,000, or $30,000 per set, for the snow tracks, Wasson said. They’ve already proven to be worth every penny, he added.
“I can’t imagine anything I’ve seen in the city (in terms of snow and ice) that these things won’t be able to navigate,” he said.
So far, the tracks have been used on two of the department’s full-sized SUV patrol vehicles, a Ford and a Chevrolet, Wasson said.
“The chief and I were the first two to operate the vehicles equipped with these,” he said. “Well, the mechanic that installed them … we let him drive them first.”
Just Drive On And Go
The tracks don’t require any major alterations of the vehicles.
”You just drive into them, and there’s a wheel at the bottom of the unit that is propelled by the vehicle’s tire, and that’s how the tracks move,” Wasson said. “It anchors on the wheel hub, and there are some safety chains that bolt to the inside of the apparatus.”
Dashing Through The Snow … At A Reasonable Speed
So, how is the ride?
Wasson said the tracks restrict a vehicle’s turning radius, somewhat, but other than that, it’s really no different than driving without them.
Although, officers won’t be using them in high-speed pursuits, he said.
“The maximum listed speed is 40 miles per hour, although, from our experience, 30 miles per hour is about the limit of what’s practical.”
The quality of the ride depends on the surface.
On packed snow or ice, it’s a little rough, it’s loud,” Wasson said. “But in deep snow, it’s like riding in a cloud.”
Surely More Use To Come
Wasson said he’s thankful the department has the tracks. It’s already been a banner year for snow, and March, April and May tend to be when the heaviest storms hit.
“We’re entering that time of year when a lot more snow than we already have is a real possibility,” he said.
It’s great to have the tracks on hand, not only for patrol duty, but to shuttle employees from any of the city’s departments to and from work on snow days.
“It’s a way to help us ensure that any essential city employees can get to work and back home safely,” he said.