Police chief is right to change wrong-headed policy

What were they thinking?

Last week, Channel 7 news investigator Scott Lewis aired a story about a gasoline station employee whose car was rear-ended by a woman driver who fled the scene. A Hamtramck police officer who responded said she couldn’t take a traffic report because it’s department policy not to take reports when traffic incidents occur on private property.

The gasoline station employee pointed out that this was more than a traffic accident; it was a hit-and-run, which is a crime in Michigan.

When the employee went to the police station after the officer told him to take it up with the lieutenant in charge of the shift, he was told there would be no investigation and to “have a nice night.”

According to state law police departments indeed are not “obligated” to take traffic accident reports that happen on private property. However, it is a criminal act to hit-and-run no matter where the accident happens.

There are two things that are deeply disturbing here: one, just because state law allows police departments to not take such reports, it’s mystifying why our department would not take a report. We pay our officers well to serve our community. By opting out of taking these reports it’s a slap to the face of the community.

Besides service, the city needs all the revenue it can get – including traffic tickets from accidents that happen anywhere in the city.

What were they thinking?

The second – and perhaps the most disturbing — thing is the fact that some officers and their commanders don’t know that a hit-and-run is a criminal act – no matter if it’s on private property. It appears some officers need a refresher course on our laws.

Worse yet, the driver in this hit and run has two arrest warrants for her and doesn’t even have a driver’s license. The driver, in other words, is a menace and needs to be restrained from driving.

And to top it off, this incident comes at a time when there is serious consideration of the city going broke and facing bankruptcy. Part of the city’s financial woes comes from the police officers’ union refusing to make any contract concessions.

At the same time there is serious consideration to contract out our police services because the department is too damn expensive.

Police Chief Mark Kalinowski said he is going to change department policy and is now instructing officers to take all traffic reports no matter where they occur.

While you’re at it, chief, you should look at all of the department’s policies to see if there are others that need to be changed.

2 Responses to Police chief is right to change wrong-headed policy

  1. Heather

    December 8, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    This law must have come about from bumper to bumper incidences in malls and such. This person should then see if the property owner is liable, just like with homeowners, if someone gets hurt on your property.

  2. douglas russell

    December 29, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I was reading your paper since I am a fellow Michagander. You know I can see part of the citizens complaint, being a police officer of 19 years myself. However there are proper protocols that could have been followed instead of airing unnecessary issues in the paper. Like the citizen can report the accident the self to the State of Michigan and then file aginst the persons insurance themself. Secondly I am sure that theChief Klinowski is well versed in his department policies. He should not have to change one just because you don’t agree with the poicies at hand. If they have changed their policy for you then they should also bill you for the investigative fee for “private “property accidents which a lot of minicipalities do. Also if the damage is under a certain amount you would be better off to get the persons information that hit you and file in small claims court for the damage since I’m sure the person did not have insurance anyways. That is the primary cause for hit and run crashes. Have a great winter and please support your local police. They are still your lifeline when you need them even when they do what “you ” think is not correct.

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