Local News

Fayetteville Civilian Investigators May Soon Handle Minor Wrecks

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A bill in the state House of Representatives could allow the city of Fayetteville to hire civilian traffic investigators to so that police officers do not get bogged down with fender benders.

The traffic investigators would have special training and be able to write police reports, but they would not be able to issue citations or carry guns or badges.

Sworn police officers would still handle accidents with injuries.

"Our recruiting base is shrinking, when it comes to law enforcement, and the workload is certainly not," said Fayetteville Police Chief Tom McCarthy said.

McCarthy said the idea of having civilian traffic investigators worked when he was at his prior job at a Florida police department and that it freed up officers to work on more serious cases.

Each year, Fayetteville police handle about 16,000 wrecks each year, about 3,000 of which are minor.

"Police can go where these people are robbing these people's houses and all," said motorist Mack Buie. "(I) reckon that's where they need to be."

But not all motorists support the idea.

"I don't think it's right to bring in civilians to do a policeman's job," said taxi driver Ron Kumlander.

If the bill passes, Fayetteville police said they hope to start the program as early as spring. The department would be first city in North Carolina to use civilian traffic investigators.