Civilians investigating their own fender-benders?

That might be possible after a proposed contract that was approved for negotiations by city officials.

"City officials awarded contract rights Tuesday (Sept. 12) to a New Orleans-based firm for "civilian traffic accident investigation and support" services, a move aimed at freeing up time for New Orleans Police Department officers to pursue non-traffic work. The proposal calls for a contractor to "provide support in collecting information on non-injury, non-DWI accidents" in New Orleans and punt that information over to the police department, according to a request for proposals issued by the city.

Duties outlined in that request for proposals include:

  • Collecting facts and data after being dispatched to the scene of a crash
  • Handing those facts and data to NOPD supervisors, who will then determine fault and potential citations
  • Maintaining records of crash responses that the police department and the city can tap into free of charge
  • Providing data to "other interested parties" - like insurance companies - per a "fee schedule" annually approved by the city, in accordance with state and local laws
  • Furnishing equipment for investigations, including uniforms and vehicles "equipped with emergency lighting that distinguishes them as different from NOPD/NOFD/EMS personnel"

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