Statement from Allen County officials regarding local Travel Advisories and the decisions that go into making them.
Allen County, Indiana (February 16, 2021) – We have received several questions and complaints about the decision by Allen County Homeland Security to issue a Travel WATCH Advisory. Below is a statement previously issued by that office explaining what goes into making such decisions. It is still appropriate for our recent snow event.
Indiana’s travel advisory system has three levels: an Advisory, a Watch and a Warning. The first two levels can be issued by our office. They are only “recommendations” to the local public, businesses, schools, etc. They are not compulsory, they have no authority of law. They are simply recommendations that travel (for some reason) may be hazardous and the public should use caution. For businesses, these levels simply give the employer specific information to make their own decision as to whether they open or close. Local government cannot tell a business they must close due to weather. That decision must be made by the business. The business must establish their own policies for employees regarding work/no work during inclement weather events
The travel Warning level is more complicated. Our office cannot issue a Warning. A Warning requires the executive (Mayor, Commissioner, Governor) to fist declare a local disaster or emergency. Then, with an emergency declared – they have the authority to change existing laws temporarily (like restricting travel, making up new rules). For example, if you have a valid driver’s license and a valid license plate on your vehicle – you can drive anywhere and anytime you want. The Mayor, Commissioners, Governor do not have the authority to tell you not to drive (normally). So in order to issue a warning, certain legal standards need to be met, legal restrictions apply, and the application of the travel warning order does not close businesses – it only restricts (with exceptions) certain travel.
Issuing a travel Watch was the most-appropriate level of public notification for today’s weather conditions.
We completely understand the concern and frustration of a system like this and how so many businesses and government levels treat it differently. We try to make the best decision we can for the most number of people. We’re sure every decision we make is not “the best” for everyone, but we really do try to do the most good for Allen County residents.