In the near future, those involved in fender-benders in Greensboro aren’t likely to see a Greensboro police officer respond to the scene.
On Wednesday, June 14, the North Carolina state House passed HB 140 – Civilian Traffic Investigators, which will allow cities across the state to hire and train non-sworn traffic investigators to respond to minor traffic accidents that don’t involve personal injuries.
Accidents where there are injuries will still be investigated by Greensboro police officers.
State Reps. Jon Hardister and John Faircloth were primary sponsors of the bill that passed the state House by a 100-6 margin and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper shortly.
Former Greensboro Police Chief Brian James started the push for this legislation and Greensboro Police Chief John Thompson reportedly made several trips to Raleigh to advocate for the bill.
In 2021, James told the Greensboro City Council that Greensboro police spend about 17,000 hours a year responding to minor traffic accidents that only involve property damage. He said that allowing civilian traffic accident investigators would free up those hours for police officers to concentrate on more serious matters.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan had a bill introduced in the legislature in 2021 to allow civilian traffic investigators in Greensboro, which passed the state House but got hung up in the Senate.
One major difference in the bill introduced in 2021 and HB 140, which has passed both the state House and Senate, is that in 2021 the bill introduced was a local bill that would have allowed Greensboro to become the third city in the state to employ civilian traffic accident investigators while HB 140 is a statewide bill that will allow cities across the state to have civilian traffic accident investigators.
The Greensboro City Council has a bad habit of passing resolutions opposing actions taken by the Republican-controlled legislature, which makes it difficult to get local bills for Greensboro through the legislature.
However, in this case, Greensboro is getting just what it wanted, which is the authority to hire civilian traffic investigators.
The bill states that civilian traffic investigators will be required to wear uniforms and drive cars with distinctly different markings from police and they will not be allowed to carry weapons. The civilian traffic investigators will be authorized to have cars towed and their reports will be admissible in court.
The North Carolina Justice Academy will be required to establish minimum training standards for the civilian traffic investigators.