Oct 2, 2010 12:25 AM by Matt Stafford

Are budget cuts making bad drivers?

Christopher Smith was in an auto-accident last week, and is surprised how Colorado Springs Police responded.

"They did not do an accident report and left the scene," says Smith, who has estimates showing that accident did nearly $550 in damage.

Then, just four days later, Smith was in another auto-accident. Again, he was left at the scene by C.S.P.D.

"He (the officer) said he would not do one because the damage was estimated to be under $500," explains Smith, but shows estimates on the damage caused in that accident at near $1,000.

Springs Police tell News First 5 that on any accident causing less than $1,000 in damage, officers have the option of not filing a report. The officers estimate the damage themselves at the scene.

Smith was told after both accidents to file what's called a cold report on the department's website; he did. However, without the department weighing in, Smith is having trouble proving he wasn't at fault.

"Because it's word versus word, and because the other person is disputing fault, I have to pay my deductible," says Smith.

Sgt. Steve Noblitt says it's about department priorities.

"We have to make resources available to those serious calls, so something has to give," explains Sgt. Noblitt.

Noblitt says if a driver really wants a report, the officers will try to help, but only if time allows.

The policy worries Smith; not only has this cost him money, but he believes when reports aren't completed, drivers aren't held accountable.

"What's to stop you from doing the same thing again?" asks Smith.

Noblitt points out that C.S.P.D. has made changes -- like red light cameras that catch drivers breaking the law but don't require as much manpower to enforce. However, with budget cuts, he says they're trying to do what they can with the resources they have.

Noblitt say minor traffic accidents are a low priority call, and will likely take a while for officers to arrive at the scene, but he recommends calling police anytime you're in an auto-accident.

Smith has a recommendation too; he says get a look for a witness at the scene. It could go a long way for your case.

For more information on reporting auto-accidents to C.S.P.D., click here.


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