National News

Police chief orders extra 'driver's ed' for officers after string of crashes

Posted August 2

— The Casa Grande Police chief is ordering all of his officers to take extra driver safety training after a spike in fender benders involving police vehicles.

Nine police vehicles have been damaged by minor accidents since April 5 compared to six in all of 2016, said Chief Mark McCrory.

"We are tasked with enforcing traffic laws. We are tasked with traffic safety presentations, and the sheer number of preventable accidents or collisions that we've had, personally, I find embarrassing," he said.

McCrory said he's embarrassed because of the timing: the Casa Grande City Council just signed off on a plan to let the police department launch a vehicle take-home program last month.

"Part of that program is to extend the life of a police car and to take better care of a police car, and then when we hit this rash of damaged vehicles, to me that's embarrassing," he added.

Two of the nine damaged patrol units were part of the take-home vehicle program, he said.

Chief McCrory said he does not think his officers are bad drivers; he just thinks they could benefit from a refresher course.

"We test with our firearms very regularly, in some cases weekly, and I think it's just time we do the same thing with our vehicles," he said.

All 80 sworn officers will get in-house training on accident avoidance, McCrory said. They will also take an online driver safety course developed specifically for police officers.

He said the goal of the training is to improve officer safety and demonstrate the department's commitment to responsibly handling equipment purchased with taxpayer funds.

No one has been hurt in these incidents, and McCrory said he feels a duty to keep it that way.

"I would much rather be having this conversation with you now, with what truly amounts to fender benders, than to sit here talking to you about one of our officers being killed in a vehicle collision," McCrory said. "That's what we're stressing to our officers: this is just preventative."

"We're proactive in our fight against crime, so why not be proactive in keeping ourselves safe?" he added.

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