Published Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 | 1:39 p.m.
Updated Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 | 4:03 p.m.
The days of Metro Police responding to fender-benders come to an end next week.
Capt. Mark Tavarez of Metro’s Traffic Bureau said at an early afternoon news conference that beginning March 3, patrol officers would stop responding to property-only accidents within Metro’s jurisdiction.
The move, Metro estimates, will free up 250 hours a week for officers to perform other duties, such as traffic-law enforcement to help reduce traffic fatalities. In 2013, Metro responded to 113 fatalities, five more than in 2012.
With 30 fewer traffic officers than there were 18 months ago, Tavarez said, minor collisions took up too much of an officer’s time that could be focused on preventing deadly accidents.
“We’ve been trying to find a way to deploy our officers successfully so we can handle fatalities and handle property damage crashes,” Tavarez said. “But now comes a time we have to prioritize, and I think everybody can agree that fatalities are more important than a property crash.”
Sheriff Doug Gillespie has long maintained Metro’s force is stretched to its limits.
During the news conference at the Metro Traffic Bureau, Tavarez said the new policy would not affect police response to injury accidents, hit-and-run accidents and accidents in which at least one of the drivers will not exchange insurance information.
Once the new policy begins, drivers who find themselves involved in a noninjury accident should, if possible, move their vehicles to safety on the side of the road, exchange their insurance information and, within 10 days as required by Nevada law, fill out an accident report and send it to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.