If the North Carolina state Senate come through, the response to minor traffic accidents in Greensboro will be markedly different.
At the work session on Thursday, July 15, Mayor Nancy Vaughan said that after talking with Greensboro Police Chief Brian James about the amount of manhours the Police Department spends on minor traffic accidents, she had a bill introduced in the legislature to allow non-sworn personnel to respond to fender benders.
House Bill 303 has passed the state House and, if it passes the state Senate, it will become law. Local bills don’t require the signature of the governor.
The bill would allow Greensboro to hire non-sworn personnel to handle traffic accidents that only involve property damage. Traffic accidents that cause injuries would continue to be handled by sworn police officers.
At the work session, James said that the police spend about 17,000 hours a year responding to traffic accidents that only involve property damage, and if response to those fender benders could be handled by non-sworn personnel that would free up a lot of hours for police officers.
James also said that two cities in North Carolina already have non-sworn personnel responding to minor traffic accidents.
House Bill 303 states, “A Civilian Traffic Investigator shall be issued a uniform that is substantially different in color and style from that of a law enforcement officer for the City of Greensboro.” It also states that Civilian Traffic Investigators will not have badges or guns and their vehicles cannot have blue lights, but red and amber lights are permissible.
The bill also states, “A report completed by a Civilian Traffic Investigator shall be treated the same as if it were completed by a law enforcement officer.”
Vaughan said that Republican state Rep. Jon Hardister helped get the bill through the House and she was talking to Republican state Sen. Amy Galey about getting it passed by the Senate. Republicans control both the state House and Senate.
It’s a fairly noncontroversial, nonpartisan issue, which means it shouldn’t have any trouble getting passed by the Senate.
However, the Greensboro City Council recently passed a resolution that included a paragraph telling the state legislature how it should go about redistricting, and resolutions of that nature don’t help when Greensboro is asking the legislature for a favor.
GSO needs to hire more police. Civilians responding to traffic incidents isn’t a great idea considering these incidents can become volatile quickly and as unarmed, non-sworn persons they will not be able to handle situations that could mean their lives, as well as the lives of the persons involved in the accident and other civilians in the area, are in danger.
Another issue is these civilians, being given uniforms, may overstep their boundaries of authority. My dad, a retired businessman, was a civilian reserve officer in another city. He was authorized to do background checks and school programs. Because he was a policeman wannabe with a narcissistic personality, he became a problem over a period of time. He would put his issued cap when someone tailgated him and then try to pull them over and lecture them about their driving. If they didn’t pull over he’d chase them down, yelling out the window that he was a police officer. He’d go up to people who parked in handicapped spaces and lecture them if he thought they shouldn’t park there (although he had no problem parking in the spaces himself not being handicapped). He was a bully who would use his cap and uniform to push people around. It took several incidents and years even though my sister and I had cautioned the police department that he shouldn’t be volunteering for them before they decided to let him go. He had a manipulative personality and could be very charming.
The city needs to step up and hire officers to fill their needs and not short-change the people they serve. People pay taxes for these services. It’s stupid to cheap out and create a possibility of a disastrous incident when the need is to hire personnel who are needed. Do the right thing. Hire more officers.
I really can’t see this working. I’ve seen to many very minor accidents in GSO, and the first thing one party does is gab their neck, and call the HURTLINE!
It’s one of those great ideas on paper, but when you implement it, it will cause more problems than it solves. DWI? Need a sworn cop to come by. No license? Need a cop to come by. Driver is wanted? Need a cop. Uncooperative? Need a cop. Oh driver walks or drives away and the civilian guy has no authority to detain or stop them? Need a cop.
Worst case, a driver who was already borderline sees the “officer” doesn’t have a gun or any means of defending themselves and becomes assaultive. Not to mention that this will have to pay much less than a sworn officer gets paid, and that’s only $20 an hour after the “big raise” hits in December. This will draw in uneducated, low quality candidates who do not have the investigative skills to solve a disputed claim of who is at fault nor the de-escalation skills needed to smooth over heated tempers at a crash scene. It will essentially be your minimum wage teenage fast food worker deciding if you were at fault in the crash. Awesome thinking everyone.
Been reading the responses that mirror my sentiments and I’d be regurgitating the same remarks. Kudos to those who have given this topic some thought and shared real world scenarios… sound like the real cops, who I fully support and back the blue! My thoughts are pass the bill and watch the show. I don’t live in greensboro but enjoy the “s”-show of their failed local government. High Point wouldn’t do dumb “s” like this and have a far superior department. Go large on the popcorn and Pepsi!