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Police response times slower due to weather and accidents

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) -- Days after our first major snowfall, the conditions in Grand Forks are still causing problems for drivers, and that's prompting a warning from police.

The Grand Forks Police Department says drivers are not using ice-scrapers or letting their windshields defrost all the way before hitting the roads.

"We've all been at stop signs and you see someone with a salad-plate sized hole chipped into the ice on the windshield and they are leaning over the wheel looking through it," said Lt. Derik Zimmel of the Grand Forks Police Department.

Zimmel says there is a city ordinance that addresses obstructed windshields, allowing officers to issue a $20 citation if windshields or mirrors aren't clear.

"More importantly, a lot of times we want to stop and educate people. It's a very dangerous thing to do,” said Zimmel. “Obviously at 4-way intersections you need that peripheral vision, you need to be able to see vehicles approaching an intersection."

He's also asking for patience, and admits response times are slower now because of the number of calls and the conditions on the roads.

"We have all-wheel-drive vehicles, but as anyone driving around town knows, all-wheel-drive doesn't help you when you are on ice. So it does effect our response time and sometimes it puts our officers in precarious situations too,” said Zimmel.

He continued, “If someone is doing CPR on another individual and we need to get there to render aid and assistance, we need to get there! But at the same time, it does nobody any good if our vehicles end up on a snowbank on the way."

The city streets department says it could take up to a week to completely clear the roads. In the meantime, if you are driving anywhere in town, take it slowly and clear your windows.