New policy changing how KPD responds to non-injury car crashes

KPD announced Monday they would stop sending officers to minor crashes, freeing up resources to respond to bigger problems.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — One of the first things you do after a car crash is call the police. But starting Sep. 1, the Knoxville Police Department may not respond to all minor car crashes.

The policy change does not mean they will not be there when drivers need them. Still, some people worried and were confused about how to handle a possible situation if they get into a car accident where nobody was hurt.

A recent press release from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance gave tips on how to stay safe during the school year and encouraged people to call the local police if they are in a car crash.

“The question is, when do you call 911, and what criteria do you use to determine if it’s minor or major?” said Earl Stroup, a Morristown resident.

Police say you should always call 911 and a dispatcher will assess the situation. Then they will decide whether an officer is necessary to attend the scene.

KPD’s announcement is focusing mostly on incidents where there aren’t any conflicts. If there is a problem, or someone doesn’t have insurance or a driver’s license, the police will show up.

This same policy was used for nearly a year, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure less contact for the officers. KPD said the policy worked out well during that time.

The owner of Drive 4 Life Academy, Greg Mangan, said state law backs up what KPD is doing but also said people should still make sure they know what to do during and after a crash. People are usually required to call the police and file a report.

“Well, actually, according to Tennessee state law, any crash that involves any injury at all, or property damage of $50 or more, the local police should be called. That’s in the Tennessee drivers handbook,” Mangan said.

At the academy, Mangan always tells his students to be defensive drivers and pay attention to the road to avoid being in a crash altogether.

“We really want teenagers to understand where to look and how to look — there’s a difference between looking and seeing,” Mangan said. “I can look at something and not really see it.”

In the meantime, some parents in Knoxville said they just want to make sure their kids are safe.

“So, really I want my children to feel safe,” said Bridget Mallidis, a Powell resident. “I want them to know that if something does happen. It may feel minor at the time, but you never know it could turn into something major.”

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