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Old 03-24-09, 07:24 PM
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I-Team: SAPD responsible for 1,647 car accidents

I-Team: SAPD responsible for 1,647 car accidents

Some officers have been found at fault for seven accidents
11:47 PM CDT on Monday, March 23, 2009
March 23rd, 2009

I-Team : SAPD driving record - Thirty-eight officers have been found at fault for four or more accidents.


Video On Demand | KENS5.com

Behind the I-Team: How we checked on police car crashes - Brian New talks about his I-Team investigation of public records documenting San Antonio police car crashes.

Last year San Antonio police officers drove more than 15 million miles, and most kept our streets safe. Yet, the KENS 5 I-Team found some officers may be posing danger, and we're all paying for it.

Last November, Officer David Seaton lost control of his patrol car and struck fellow officer Robert Davis as he was picking up road flares. Officer Davis’ death has raised many questions about the driving record of San Antonio police officers.

"We understand there are people out there that want to hurt us, bad people that want to hurt us. Unfortunately, we are hurting ourselves by driving too fast," said SAPD spokesperson Sgt Gabe Trevino.

Over the past ten years, according to police records, San Antonio police officers have been involved in 3,497 accidents, and forty-seven percent of the time officers were found responsible.

Those accidents resulted in 413 injuries and millions of dollars in repairs and settlements.

According to police records, Officer Michael Burts has been found at fault for seven accidents in seven years, the most in the department.

Thirty-eight officers have been found at fault for four or more accidents.

"Should an officer have that many? It depends on an officer’s assignment. It depends on the officer’s call that he responded to. I think just to look at that number would be unfair," said Sgt. Trevino.

Ninety-percent of officer involved accidents happened when officers where on routine patrol.

Back in August, Officer Chris Masters was involved in an accident along I-410. His patrol car collided with Daniel Morales’ car.

"It shot his cruiser at my car like a bullet," said Morales.

An accident review board, made up of police officers, found Officer Masters not responsible. It ruled Morales cut him off, even though Morales said that’s not what happened.

While the sides disagree about who was at fault, according to police logs, less than one minute before the accident Officer Masters was driving 97 miles an hour.

Officer Masters was on routine patrol at the time. According to the department's manual, officers are not to exceed the posted speed while on routine patrol. Officer Masters was never disciplined for incident.

"Should he had been going that fast? I don't know because I wasn't on that board that reviewed the case, but they felt based upon what they saw that it was a non-chargeable," said Sgt. Trevino.

Seventy-five percent of the time when officers have been found at fault for an accident, according to police records, officers receive either a written or verbal warning. Officers are sent back to remedial training less than 15% of the time.

This year the San Antonio Police Department has placed an added emphasis on safety and driving slower during its annual in-service training.

"These cars are dangerous. Again we lose more officers from car accidents that assaults, and we stress that point to the officers," said Sgt. Trevino.

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