Law Enforcement Crashes Add Up for Taxpayers

Law Enforcement Crashes Add Up for Taxpayers

One in seven Memphis Police officers were involved in a crash in 2012, the statistic is the same for Shelby County deputies. The crashes cost the tax payers millions of dollars.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - One in seven Memphis Police officers were involved in a crash in 2012, the statistic is the same for Shelby County deputies. The crashes cost the tax payers millions of dollars.

Whether they're fender benders, door dings, or lucky-to-be-alive near misses, crashes are nearly a daily activity for the Memphis Police Department; 334 were reported in 2012.

City Councilman Jim Strickland says the cost can add up, "The city is self insured, any damage any City employee causes to someone else, we have to pay for it out of tax dollars." That's not the only cost, Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong says, "There's a cost associated with repairing the cars and we hope we don't get officers injured, but there's a cost associated with that."

When you're talking more than 330 accidents a year, it adds up to millions of dollars. "At the end of the day there are no winners," Armstrong says, "Those costs have to be absorbed in some way, shape or form and more than likely it comes out of tax payers."

In 2012 MPD had 334 crashes, which means one out of every seven officers was involved in an accident last year. That sounds like a lot, but it's down from 434 the year before, when it was one out of every six officers.

Strickland says, "It's a concern, police administration is concerned too, they've done great things to reduce that number."

The Shelby County Sheriff's office has the same ratio. It had fewer than 80 accidents in 2012, but the office has significantly fewer deputies, which still means one in seven is getting in a crash. The Sheriff's Office declined to comment.

MPD Director Toney Armstrong says accidents are unfortunately part of the job, but he's determined to get the numbers even lower in 2013. "We feel we've taken the necessary steps, we feel we monitor it better than we have in previous years," Armstrong says, "We hold officers more accountable than we have in past years... At the end of the day, the message is clear that you will be held accountable for your actions."

Council members say a lot of the problem is no matter how small the accident, citizens always file a claim looking for a quick buck from the City, which means more bucks from tax payers.

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