Dozens of local police cruisers involved in crashes each year

A Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy was injured after his cruiser was hit by a Jefferson Township snow plow in February 2014. STAFF
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A Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy was injured after his cruiser was hit by a Jefferson Township snow plow in February 2014. STAFF

A $30,000 settlement approved this month by the Montgomery County commission is the latest hit to government coffers when police and sheriff’s vehicles get into traffic collisions.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office vehicles have been involved in about 80 crashes since 2013, many of which resulted in property damage and injury payments, with some costing the county five figures.

RELATED: 1 injured in crash with Dayton police cruiser

Similarly, sworn officers with the Dayton Police Department were involved in about 240 crashes between 2013 and 2016, according to police data.

Traffic crashes are a dangerous but common occurrence for law enforcement officers, who often spend a lot of time behind the wheel, rushing to calls or patrolling the streets.

Traffic crashes tend to be the leading cause of death among members of U.S. law enforcement.

But in addition to being a safety risk, traffic crashes often carry financial costs for local governments and taxpayers.

“We take accidents seriously, and we take a look at them and what went on, what happened, how to address it and if we need defensive driving,” said Amy Wiedeman, assistant Montgomery County administrator.

RELATED: Deputy injured after crash with snow plow

Last week, the Montgomery County commission approved a $30,000 settlement related to an incident from 2013 in which a sheriff deputy’s cruiser struck a citizen’s car, which then smashed into a parked car, according to county records.

Motorist Major Wright Jr. sued the sheriff’s department and deputy Darren Harvey in Franklin County Common Pleas Court for damages and injuries related to crash, which occurred on Turner Road in Harrison Twp.

Wright was taken to the hospital after he complained of a sore chest and neck.

That settlement is one of the largest payments the county has made in recent years for a traffic crash involving a sheriff’s employee.

RELATED: Dayton police officer injured in crash

Not including the payment to Wright, the county in the last four and a half years has spent almost $285,000 on property and casualty insurance payments for deputy-involved traffic crashes, and some bills are still pending.

The crashes also have resulted in injuries that resulted in more than $73,000 in workers’ compensation payments, according to county records.

Sheriff’s deputies have struck citizens’ vehicles, deer, other cruisers, parked cars, a highway median, a decorative rock and a parking pole, according to records from the county’s department of risk management. Deputies also have been struck by fleeing suspects and careless and distracted motorists, and were determined not to be at fault.

The sheriff’s department has 436 budgeted positions and 162 vehicles.

Claim payments come out of the funds of the departments whose workers were involved in the auto collisions, county officials said.

RELATED: Dayton police cruiser involved in crash

Between 2013 and 2016, Dayton police officers have been in 48 to 69 crashes each year.

Last year, officers were determined to be at fault for 25 of the 57 auto crashes, according to police records.

Police officers have struck other police cruisers, concrete walls, a chimney, a pole in an Arby’s parking lot and the side of a vacant building after a vehicle was not properly put in gear and slipped into reverse, the records show.

Across the nation, police-involved auto crashes are fairly common, since law enforcement officers typically spend large amounts of time behind the wheel of automobiles.