Veteran cop laments demise of crash reports
Larry Harmel, executive director of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association, wonders what has happened to the old-fashioned accident investigation report -- with subsequent charging of the driver who is at fault.
Harmel, a former chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police and a four-decade law enforcement veteran, told me in an interview today that the oldtime emphasis on traffic accidents has "really gone by the wayside" in the modern era.
In the past, he said, officers were expected to gather the facts about what led to a crash -- even if there was not a serious injury -- and to file the appropriate charges such as failure to yield. unlawful lane change or following too close. If an officer didn't thoroughly investigate crashes, he or she would hear about it from the sergeant.
Now, he said, an officer is more likely to see that the roads are cleared and that insurance information is exchanged and then be on his or her way. Investigating routine crashes is seen as a waste of scarce resources, he said.
"Somebody needs to be charged in most of these accidents out there," Harmel said. "It just angers me that the whole profession has gotten away from writing accident reports."
He contended that it's important for highway safety to create a paper trail showing who the worst drivers are. And if that leads to higher insurance rates for bad drivers, he can live wiith that.
"If it causes more safe driving, so be it," he said.