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Albuquerque Police may Skip Minor Wrecks

July 16, 2002
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Albuquerque Police may Skip Minor Wrecks

The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - Albuquerque police might stop going to the thousands of minor fender benders that take place around the city each year.

Police leaders said Monday that the move would free up officers for more pressing calls and ease inconvenience for drivers in small, noninjury mishaps.

Police Chief Gil Gallegos is to review and decide upon the plan in the next few weeks.

"We're just inundated, so we can't provide the kind of service the public expects," said Capt. John Gonzales, who heads the department's traffic section.

Mayor Martin Chavez said he wants to see the department's research before weighing in on the issue.

Albuquerque police tried a similar plan a decade ago but it was promptly dumped after strong public outcry.

City police have traditionally responded to all traffic wrecks, except on some foul-weather days when more accidents occur. Motorists involved in fender benders are then asked to go to police stations to make their own reports.

According to the department, police during one recent 10-month stretch investigated nearly 16,000 property-damage accidents.

Gonzales said under the new proposal, police would stop going out to noninjury crashes in which both vehicles can still be driven and police enforcement isn't needed.

The proposal would be phased in over 12 to 18 months. During the first 12 months, drivers would be educated on what to do in the event of a crash, and accident report forms would be made available at sites throughout the city.

Police said officers would still respond in cases where a driver insists on having police at the scene.

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