Preventing car crashes involving police officers during normal activities has created a State Task Force to investigate the problem. About 4:30 a.m. Sunday, February 19, a 45-year-old St. Petersburg man was struck and killed by a St. Petersburg police cruiser as he was crossing 38th Avenue N. The man, a quadriplegic, was heading north near 64th Street when he was hit by the car and thrown from his wheelchair. The officer who hit him was not responding to a call, police officials said, according to a Tampa Bay Timesarticle.
Car accidents involving law enforcement officers causing injuries and fatalities are all too common in the state. The Orlando Sentinel recently ran a three-day series of articles on the problem.
The Sentinel analyzed five years’ worth of vehicle-crash data, involving 1.6 million crashes, to determine how often Florida law-enforcement officers crash while in department vehicles and how often they are at fault. The study found that many officers at least partially to blame for some fatal crashes were not ticketed or charged.
Florida police officers are involved in an average of 7,400 patrol car crashes annually, resulting in 2,400 people injured and 20 killed and causing $25 million in property damage. In a quarter of the accidents, officers are at least partially to blame; in most cases they are not ticketed.
The series has motivated the Florida Highway Patrol to begin working immediately with sheriffs and police chiefs on how to prevent police car crashes, Gov. Rick Scott’s office announced last week. FHP Director Col. David Brierton Jr. issued a statement on Wednesday saying “the goal of the task force is to develop policies to guide officer patrol activity, training and behavior modification.”
While praising the series in the Sentinel, Orlando Police Chief Paul Rooney said he has no intention of changing the agency’s policy of prohibiting police officers from ticketing other officers who have caused car crashes. He may use the information from the study in officer training. He is also considering implementing one of the reports suggestions: having dashboard cameras switch on automatically anytime a patrol car reaches 65 mph.
Training and behavior modification are all well and good, but holding police officers responsible for their actions is likely to be a better deterrent to reckless driving.
No one should be above the law, and a police officer exceeding the speed limit when not on a call requiring it, failing to yield, running a red light or stop sign, or engaging in other dangerous behavior should be subject to the same penalties as any other citizen.
Clearwater Attorney, Jim Dodson has helped children and adults injured in car accidents, truck accidents, medical malpractice cases, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, slip, trip and fall accidents, and other motor vehicle accidents, and the families of victims of these accidents for more than 25 years. He provides information to the public regarding the handling of these cases in Florida. For additional information call 727.446.0840.
We represent personal injury and accident victims in Florida in these cities:
Clearwater, Clearwater Beach, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Largo, Oldsmar, St. Petersburg, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Pinellas Park, Seminole, Belleair, Belleair Bluffs, Belleair Shores,Treasure Island, Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Crystal Beach, Ozona, Bradenton, Palmetto, Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Ellenton, Kenneth City, South Pasadena, St. Petersburg Beach, Tierra Verde, New Port Richey, Port Richey, Hudson, Bayonet Point, Holiday, Land O’Lakes, Lutz, Odessa, Tampa, Temple Terrace, Dade City, Sebring, Wesley Chapel, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Hillsborough County, Manatee County, and all other cities in Florida and Florida Counties.
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