Metro Police Assistant Sheriff Joe Lombardo said he will work hard to ensure officers respond to even non-injury car accidents, but says he can’t promise a controversial policy change announced recently won’t become permanent.
Lombardo, who’s running for sheriff to replace Doug Gillesipe in November, also said the current policy has been misunderstood in the media, and that police officers will respond when requested to come to an accident scene, although drivers may have to wait, in some cases hours, for a response.
But Lombardo pledged he’d review staffing and deployment with an eye toward restoring the current policy, which is to send an officer to every accident scene, even those with no injuries where a police officer may not be needed. That policy will end Monday in favor of new protocol. Under the new system, dispatchers will ask motorists involved in accidents a series of questions to determine if an officer is needed:
- Are there injuries? (If yes, an officer will be dispatched. If no, the operator will continue with more questions.)
- Can the cars be moved from the roadway? (If no, an officer may be sent. If yes, the questions continue.)
- Is the other driver being cooperative in exchanging insurance and registration information? (If no, an officer will be sent; if yes, the dispatcher will ask if either party wants an officer to respond. If neither does, the drivers will be left to handle the situation on their own.)
- In cases of hit-and-run, combative drivers or road rage, officers will be sent.
- Patrol officers, in addition to traffic officers, may respond to accident scenes.
Although Lombardo admitted that staffing ratios contribute to the new policy, which has been under discussion for about two years, he insisted it was not a reaction to the Clark County Commission’s rejection of the More Cops sales tax increase proposal. Although Gillespie has tried repeatedly to get the commission to vote to increase the sales tax by 0.15 percentage points, commissioners have balked at several iterations of the idea. “It isn’t an action because of the no vote on More Cops,” Lombardo said.
But Lombardo said he’ll continue to try to identify ways to continue responding to accidents if he can find ways to do so, using existing staff. He said long waits or not responding to non-injury accidents when a motorist nonetheless wants an officer is “unacceptable.”
“It’s a marshaling of resources,” Lombardo said. “I personally believe we’ve done great due diligence marshaling our resources.”
Lombardo added he’s not giving up on getting the More Cops sales tax idea passed, however, and will continue Gillespie’s push for the levy if he’s elected sheriff in November. “I’m I’m elected sheriff, I’m going after More Cops again,” Lombardo said.
There were 13,000 non-injury traffic accidents in the valley last year, Lombardo said. Although most people believe officers are required to respond to all accidents, state law doesn’t say that. And in other jurisdictions, including larger cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, police don’t respond to non-injury crashes.