The Chattanooga Police Department will be implementing a new protocol for responding to traffic crashes. A police officer will only be required to respond in person to a traffic crash if they meet any of these eight qualifications:
1. Death or injury;
2. Hit and run;
3. Impairment of an operator due to alcohol or drugs;
4. Government-owned vehicles or property;
5. Hazardous materials;
6. Disturbances between principals;
7. Major traffic congestion as a result of the crash; and
8. Damage to vehicles to the extent that towing is required.
Officials said, "The department is following suit with many local departments of similar size and manpower in implementing this change due to officers spending large amounts of time on traffic crashes that are not considered priority one calls. These are considered lower on the scale of priority due to no injury or lack of severe property damage.
"Ultimately, those involved in a crash that falls outside of these 8 qualifying crashes will still call dispatch to report the crash and dispatch will then let the involved parties know how they will report the crash to the city and the state. The involved parties will be transferred to a recording within CPD that will explain their reporting requirements and the steps that are needed to fulfill those requirements.
"As a department, we are committed to serving and protecting our community. Citizens have called for us to be more involved with preventing crime. After running the numbers- as a city as a whole- we were spending 35+ hours a day on traffic crashes that are not within the 8 qualifying exceptions.
"Local agencies have implemented the same protocol, eliminating half of the crashes they respond to. Other cities with this same response have decreased their response to these non-qualifying crashes in some instances by up to 50%. That could be up to 18 hours back to our officers in Neighborhood Policing. This would lead to more in-depth, focused initiatives toward violent crime in the city. We have only seen a small amount of what our officers, investigators, and crime analysts are capable of. With more hours in the day to serve our community, we can only expect a safer Chattanooga."