Proposed N.C. bill would create civilian traffic crash investigators
The civilian investigators wouldn't have authority to make arrests or issue criminal process notices
By Paul B. Johnson
The High Point Enterprise
HIGH POINT, N.C. — State Rep. John Faircloth, R- Guilford, has again filed a bill that would allow municipalities in North Carolina to have trained civilian investigators handle routine traffic accidents to free police officers for other duties.
Faircloth, a retired chief of the High Point Police Department, recently filed House Bill 140 to permit civilians to investigate crashes that involve only property damage.
The civilian investigators wouldn't have authority to make arrests or issue criminal process notices. Also, the investigators would have to complete training with law enforcement officers experienced in traffic calls.
Faircloth has filed similar bills in previous years that didn't gain much traction in the N.C. General Assembly. But Faircloth told The High Point Enterprise on Tuesday that the current shortage of officers in many police departments and the greater difficulty in recent years of recruiting new officers may change perspectives on his proposal.
"Officers who are out there fully equipped to answer any kind of calls are being called away to investigate a two-car bump-up," he said. "That can tie up officers sometimes for as much as a couple of officers. That's sort of what's driving this."
Civilian traffic investigators would complete reports that would be submitted to law enforcement. The investigators would be able to tow or remove vehicles involved in a wreck that are blocking streets or highways.
The investigators would have uniforms and vehicles distinct from police officers, according to the legislation.
Faircloth said that cities and towns would not be required to have civilian investigators.
"In no way are we telling them they have to," Faircloth said. "It's just an option that they can have."
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