NYPD preparing to expand crash-response program designed to lower officer response times

Officials say the pilot program, where police do not respond to crashes that only involve property damage, decreased response times for priority jobs


Joseph Ostapiuk
Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The NYPD plans to roll out its Staten Island pilot program, where police do not respond to crashes that only involve property damage, to the rest of the city, a department spokeswoman said.

The program, which began in March of 2018, was a “success," the department spokeswoman claimed, adding that response times for priority jobs decreased on the borough during the program’s implementation.

Under a new pilot program, NYPD officers will not respond to vehicle crashes that involve only property damage. (Photo/TNS)
Under a new pilot program, NYPD officers will not respond to vehicle crashes that involve only property damage. (Photo/TNS)

The next step for the program — which is still in effect — is awaiting approval before it can be put into place throughout the other four boroughs, according to the spokeswoman.

While the NYPD lauded the effects of the pilot, others are not as keen on its results.

A source with knowledge of the towing industry, who wished not to be named to avoid losing further towing jobs, said that towing companies are “losing business like crazy” because of the program.

New York City utilizes a “Directed Accident Response Program" (DARP) in instances where vehicles sustain damage in crashes. The DARP program constitutes that private towing companies be summoned to the scene by responding NYPD officers to remove damaged vehicles.

However, the NYPD’s pilot program has caused a decrease in DARP calls, the towing source said.

Instead of calling police, some motorists are “taking it into their own hands” and driving mangled cars with issues like leaking fluid and deployed airbags, which would have previously caused a tow to be initiated, away from the scene after exchanging information — cutting towing companies out of the picture.

“Now you got all crashed cars on the side roads," the source said.

The program is also affecting insurance agencies. One agent with over 20 years of experience, whose company did not permit agents to speak to the media regarding the program, said that a lack of a police report causes conflicting statements to be the only matter of record in crashes.

“This is what prohibits the company from settling the case quicker,” the source said.

In addition, the insurance source said that motorists could provide false or suspended information in the event of a minor crash — something that responding officers would be able to verify if they responded.

“This (program) is not a good thing,” the source said.

The Advance previously reported that drivers are responsible for exchanging insurance information and filing a report with the state Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the incident, according to the Twitter feeds of NYPD Patrol Borough Staten Island and the 120th Precinct.

There is currently no timetable when the program will be rolled out to the rest of the city.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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