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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

5Ws?





Sometimes after reading a news story you want to learn more, get all the details.  For example, take the news item pasted below that appeared in Monday's print edition of the Press Republican.   (It can be found online here.)

*  *  *

Police Log: Feb. 13, 2012 — Accident

Mon Feb 13, 2012, 05:58 AM EST

PLATTSBURGH — A Plattsburgh City Police officer was involved in a two-car motor-vehicle accident Sunday afternoon.

According to police, unit 308 was driving south on South Catherine Street in Plattsburgh at about 12:05 p.m., when the accident occurred at the intersection of South Catherine and Johnson Avenue.

Police said the officer involved in the incident was enroute to a reported domestic dispute on Hill Top Way when the accident occurred.

No one was injured, and the incident is under investigation.

*  *  *

OK, we have what, when, and where but not who or why.  Since the accident is under investigation the why is up in the air.  But regarding who was involved, the name of both drivers is missing, including that of the police officer (unless the officer's name is Unit 308.

What makes this small item stand out are the complaints that some people have made to the Press-Republican about city police cars driving at high speed while answering calls, sometimes without any sirens, just lights.  I have observed this myself while downtown, sitting at a coffeehouse and a red meteor streaks by the front windows, no audible warning.  There's no mention of lights or siren in the above news item.

Last April there was another accident involving a city police car answering a call when it collided with a civilian vehicle.  That article gave the names of all involved in the accident.  The civilian driver, a 84 year old man, was ticketed for not yielding the right of way to an emergency vehicle.

If you go the archived online version of the PR article, you will find this comment from matt151617:

"This is sad [the civilian driver] was ticketed. The police officer failed to yield the right of way to the other car. The officer was going through a red light, and [the civilian driver] had a green. Look up the New York State laws, having emergency lights and sirens does not give you the right to not show due regard. Emergency vehicles are required to stop at a red light, and proceed only after verifying the intersection is clear.

"I understand the police officers were responding to an accident, and did have their lights and siren on, but it does not excuse them from going through a red light. Fortunately no one got hurt."

Someone named ddonny added this typo-spotted observation:

"wonder if the old man had time to respond,i know ive seen police cars with light on in plattsburgh doing 55mph or more,maybe the oldtimer wasent quick enough,at least everyone is ok."

And LocalCitizen commented on a earlier version of the online article:

"Even though the Police lights & sirens may have been on, one cannot assume that they are being seen & heard. Any emergency vehicle has to proceed with caution & be on the lookout for people or vehicles that may not be aware of them. Unless the other vehicle was operating at any unlawful speed, or ran a red light, etc, it is the fault of the emergency vehicle. To ticket the driver is playing it safe, trying to avoid a lawsuit. If that driver's lawyer gets involved, goodbye ticket & hello payday. I'm not on either 'side', I'm just sayin'! Had they killed a person walking across the road, would they have ticketed them, too?"

Interesting POVs.  I wonder if our hometown newspaper looked into any of the issues raised by them.

Anyway these comments show that some are concerned about city police speeding through the streets during an emergency and whether the speeds attained might be too high.  This latest incident involving another civilian vehicle renews that issue.

But the investigation is underway and the public will learn who was at fault, if anyone.  After all, transparency is important when it comes to the government.

Speaking of investigations, what was the upshot of the accident back in April?  Was the ticketed civilian driver found guilty?

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