In Michigan, the worst day of the year for most cops won’t be found on the calendar. It’s the day of the first snowfall each winter.

No, I’m not talking about the light flurries that look like dust on the roads. No, I’m talking about a snowfall that requires deployment of the snow removal crews, i.e. plows and the like.

It happens every year … usually in December.

The only folks who celebrate this day are the folks who print the state crash form. In Michigan, it is called a UD-10. (Don’t ask, ‘cause I don’t know)

It was a rude awakening. Let me paint you a picture.


Drivers with many years of experience behind the wheel drove like they had never seen snow previously. Even though, if they had lived in Michigan for more than a year, they had endured it many times.



Dispatch is swamped with callers reporting fender benders – seemingly everywhere.

It seems that around every corner are two banged-up cars – maybe more. The drivers are standing outside their vehicles waiting not-so-patiently for an officer to arrive.

Too often, the ill-informed drivers believe they shouldn’t move their cars until a cop arrives. We all know what that does to traffic: Ouch!

The calls stack-up. Time for lunch? Forget it!

The roads are a mess. For us, it is like being at the fair and driving in the Dodge-Em cars.



My home state of Florida gets its own kind of celebrations, too.

A little rain after a few days of dry weather causes the roads to get as slick as if they were covered in ice.

Most natives remember that fact. But, not the visitors. And Florida gets a BUNCH of visitors.

Put some rain in the mix when we are “in season” and it’s like a big game of Bumper Cars out there, too.



The IACP conference is just days away. Every year ahead of that gala event, my email IN BOX is glutted with emails from companies bragging about their newest product. They want me to be certain to stop by their booth and look at their newest gizmo.

There should be an award for the dumbest idea every year.

A company known to most cops announced a computerized a traffic crash reporting program that doesn’t need a cop to complete and file. The advertisement says, “On-line citizen self-reporting,” for crashes.


No cop required


A civilian can use their home computer or a smart phone from the scene to file the report. The email promo went on to say that their new citizen reporting program, “… captures all required information …”

Let’s see … here in Florida, a crash report is at least seven pages long. Most states’ crash reports require dozens – if not hundreds – of data fields to be completed. Done by the citizen? At the scene of the crash? Maybe while the vehicles involved sit in the roadway, tying up traffic?

What a great idea!  Uh-huh, sure.



Cops are trained and experienced in filling out their agency’s crash report. The average citizen is not. There are some fields on most reports that require technical skills to understand and complete. There are those where the definition is not simple.

How many calls to the desk from the citizen will be required to get each report completed?

Many traffic crashes result in a citation being issued to one of the involved drivers. How does that work if there is no cop on scene?

Frequently, we arrive at a crash scene and one or more of the passengers is injured – if only slightly. They often brush it off as nothing. We know better and summon the EMS crew who transport because they recognize the injury to be worse than the civilian knew. Is some citizen going to sue claiming our agency was negligent for NOT sending an officer?

What happens if the at-fault driver refuses to participate in the computer exercise?

How about if it is a hit-and-run?

Could someone file a false report claiming that someone they are mad at is the at-fault driver? You can bet that will happen more than once.

In short, it’s a prescription for a mess.



For communities on a tight budget, this could be a perfect opportunity for the City Manager to call for a reduction in the headcount in their cop shop. How perfect is that?

Citizens could use their smart phone to fill out a nice, factual report on their own crash … or dream something phony up to screw with an enemy – or the cops.

What a concept!

At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.



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