Editor, Manteca Police,
Are residents of Manteca aware that when someone is involved in a possible life threatening accident with another car Manteca Police Department will not dispatch an officer, if the caller says there are no injuries, regardless of who is calling.
I was immediately following a car that got hit by an oncoming car. This was a serious accident, with serious damage to both cars. Stopping to see if all involved were okay, it was clear the driver of the car I was following was so rattled that she just sat in her car in the middle of the road, not even attempting to get out of it. She had an infant and a young daughter in the backseat. When I approached, the young woman finally got out of her car, saying several times ‘I tried to avoid hitting her, but she just turned right in front of me’. And, she did do a great job, but this was unavoidable. She was so shaken she could hardly talk, but I suggested she call 911, and in doing so, she was advised that police would not be dispatched, even though she repeatedly requested they come out. What reason?
When asked by the dispatcher if she was okay, she said she didn’t think she was bleeding. And, she didn’t know about the occupants of the other car. When she hung up she said police were not coming. I suggested she call back again as I did not have my phone and I agreed that an officer should be dispatched. She was told no again. The car that made the left in front of her had two young ladies in it, sustaining considerable damage and was spun around in the impact as well.
My query is this: Since when, if you ask for a Manteca Police Department officer to come out because of an accident, regardless of the possibility of injury, or it is without a doubt that one party was clearly at fault, they will not come? There weres huge pieces of debris from both cars as well as, broken glass, oil/antifreeze, etc. all over the two lanes of traffic. The woman in the car I was following was clearly upset and confused when the occupants from the other car came running up apologizing profusely for causing the accident. And, seeing they weren’t visibly injured, I gave my information to the woman if she needed a witness and left.
When I got home, I called dispatch to confirm what I had just heard....and yep, they don’t come out. Period. They ask if there was any injuries from the party calling, but good golly, the other two young ladies hadn’t even gotten out of their car yet when her two calls were made. This woman was obviously in shock, but of course, when asked by the 911, she said she wasn’t bleeding. So the presumption was she was not injured. She should not have gone unchecked, as should not have her young daughters, or worse yet, try to drive a vehicle that might have been dangerous to drive, which hers was not safe to drive, with severe damage to the right front fender, hood and wheel. I was raised to believe that that was an officer’s job, to respond to accidents, to assess what had happened and get statements, get all the parties information exchanged, assess if there might be injuries, call for ambulance, call for fire depaerment or tow trucks, and write citations when fault is clear. I do not believe it should be policy for police to leave their jobs up to the discretion of someone who was directly involved with the accident to make a decision whether there were injuries or not, etc. Or worse, leave it up to some claims agents behind a desk to decide who was at fault and make recommendations to authorities, that are most likely not acted upon.
Living at Woodward Avenue and Airport Way, we see serious, even fatal accidents every day. We have run out in the middle of the night with one driver trying to talk another into not calling police and to handle it among themselves, for one reason or another. Or, yet another driver not even getting out of his car to check for injuries in the other car and scream away before anyone got his license number. Usually it is because of intoxication or no license or insurance or whatever. And, then there are the ones where there is total silence after the accident, as both drivers are too injured to even speak or move. Thank goodness they didn’t call 911 and no one was dispatched.
I kept thinking all evening, this accident will be treated as no-fault, and both insurance companies will pay, when there was clearly and self-admitted, one driver who caused it.
The 20 somethings driving the other car will not have this on their record, nor will any citations be issued. But, both parties insurance rates will increase considerably, and that just is not the way it is supposed to be, especially for the car I was following, who clearly was not at fault. So, am I correct in assuming then that unless an officer actually witnesses the accident, no one will get a ticket, simply because there was no blood, so no police are dispatched? Are we paying for police just to ticket speeders, or DUIs? Revenue is revenue, but this is just absurd. Or don’t police departments want to ‘waste money’ to possibly have their officers off the street and in court, if they made a bad conclusion, and are being sued. I wonder what is at the root of this policy coming into use. I know police will say, lack of personnel, or lack of funding, but in a city our size, I just can’t see that. Nor have I heard or seen tons of complaints that there needs to be more hired. Every time there is an accident at my corners, there are multiple Manteca PD as well as Sheriff and CHP on scene, to more than cover a two car collision, for example. And, I rarely see any leaving, and sirens, on to respond somewhere else. But, my scope of experience is limited to my neighborhood, or those nearby. But, I don’t think staffing is the reason.
There were a dozen witnesses to this accident, yet no one came forward with their information. I found this out when the insurance claims agent of the woman I was following contacted me asking for a statement. Sadly, of course, the story had changed from the two who caused the accident by this time. They claimed that she was speeding or had her blinker on or some such nonsense. I could tell from the agent’s questions and responses to my questions that she was glad her insured’s story was corroborated. And, then I got a call from the other driver’s insurance. He was more concerned and asked a lot more questions, when he found out the facts of what happened did not match his insured’s statements. After the recorders were turned off for both calls, I shared my opinions and asked if any citations would be issued, as both had told me it had become customary for both insurance companies to try and determine who was at fault in the absence of a police report, and go from there.
I asked if this procedure was the same everywhere, both indicated it was in the absence of a police report, which, without witnesses coming forward and in the absence of a police report, would have been what I suspected — both insurance companies would pay. The young girl’s record will remain unchanged, and she will think she can get away with obviously not paying attention, the city will lose the revenue, and the life of the one not at fault will have serious expenses to cover. Not to mention how many more accidents were caused as a result of the debris and oil left in the roadway. Not a great policy for police departments to follow, simply because there was no blood! Everyone loses, insurance rates continue to skyrocket, and oopps I hear the screeching brakes and sounds of scrunching metal from yet another accident in front of or near my home. Gee, I wonder what the accident, hit and runs, injury, insurance or revenue data is for cities where police that have adopted this policy, as opposed to those that don’t.