APD reverses new policy on non-injury car accidents

Credit: John Spink, jspink@ajc.com

Credit: John Spink, jspink@ajc.com

The Atlanta Police Department has reversed a controversial new policy that eliminated officer visits for auto accidents in which no one is seriously injured.

As it did when it enacted the policy, APD announced the reversal on social media, tweeting Friday, “At the height of COVID-19, APD implemented changes to normal operations to protect our officers & the public from unnecessary close contact with others. Now that the number of vehicles on our streets has increased, our officers will resume responding to non-injury accidents.”

The change, announced just two weeks ago, put responsibility “squarely on the driver,” said Bruce Hagen, an Atlanta attorney specializing in automobile accidents for the last 35 years.

APD said it adopted the plan “to protect the health and safety of our staff and customers, and to help mitigate the the impact of COVID-19.”

Drivers instructed to complete a SR-13 form, used in the past for accidents on private property but one unknown to most commuters.

An Atlanta Police Department spokeswoman said at the time the policy is temporary. Other cities, like Louisville, have made similar changes due to COVID-19, she said. In large municipalities like Los Angeles and New York City, officers haven’t responded to non-injury accidents for years, choosing to allocate more resources to crime prevention.