By Kendall McGee | March 24, 2021 at 5:47 PM EDT – Updated March 24 at 7:47 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A newly filed bill could spell out changes for the Wilmington Police Department.
The two-man team has been investigating crashes without injuries for years and filing reports for the department. They don’t have blue lights on their cars, a weapon, or any arresting power, but the goal is to help out with stalled cars, fender benders, directing traffic at scenes and to free up uniformed officers for more serious calls.
The city handles more than 7,500 calls for crashes a year and 80 percent of them have no injuries so they can be investigated by the Civilian Crash Team.
The aim of the bill is to give them the power to write traffic citations related to the crash they’re investigating. It’s something they have to call a sworn officer to do right now.
Stanley Pollock has been responding to car crashes as part of WPD’s Civilian Crash team for more than 13 years now.
“I like everything about my job; it’s a fun job. You know, I never know what I’m gonna get into, that’s the exciting part of it,” smiled Pollock.
It’s also a job he takes very seriously. Pollock’s expertise helps take a load off of the sworn officers.
“Some days we end up with three crashes in eight hours and we could also end up with 13 or 14 crashes within that eight hours,” explained Pollock.
According to the investigator, though, the team still has to lean on a uniformed officer for help with citations pretty often.
As it stands, Civilian Crash Investigators don’t have the authority to issue citations, but that could change soon under the new bill.
“That’s what the bill is really for. It allows them the ability to do that after some pretty significant training that is provided by the police department,” said Senator Michael Lee.
Senator Michael Lee worked closely with the city before he filed the bill that would only apply to the Wilmington Police Department.
“It really is to allow sworn officers more time to do other things, rather than focus on traffic infractions, and so it creates efficiencies within the department and that’s really what I think the City of Wilmington was looking for,” Lee said.
The city continues to get busier, and Pollock is delighted to hear that he could continue to lighten the load for busy uniformed officers.
“I’ll be able to complete the whole process by myself without getting another officer to come over; I think that would be helpful,” said Pollock.
The bill has been referred to a committee. According to Lee, if it passes, there’s no timeline yet on when people might see changes because the officers would have to undergo training before writing those citations.
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