By William Bill Hurst

On July 1, 2011 an Indianapolis Metropolitan police officer was hospitalized after she was involved in a crash on the “Far South side” while responding to another traffic accident.  The officer had lights and sirens activated when she drove through a red light at Southport and Bluff roads and was struck by a northbound Ford Explorer at about 4:30 p.m.   http://www.indystar.com/article/20110701/news02/107010373/indianapolis-police-officer-hurt-afternoon-crash

The following Wednesday, July 6, 2011 on the “Near Northside” of Indianapolis a Fishers woman was injured in a car crash with an Indianapolis Metropolitan police officer.  The Fishers woman, who has not been identified, had minor injuries and both were being treated at Methodist Hospital.  The officer was on a dispatched run and traveling south on Fall Creek Parkway when a 2006 Dodge Durango exited the parking lot of the BP gas station and pulled into the officer’s path of travel.  After impact both cars struck a tree on the west side of Fall Creek Parkway.  The officer was not using his lights and sirens at the time of the crash.  http://www.indystar.com/article/20110706/NEWS/110706018/IMPD-officer-injured-crash-Near-Northside

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s General Order #4.16 V. “Emergency Operations” states that:

Police Department vehicles must be operated 1. Under emergency conditions only when the officer is responding to a reported or confirmed emergency condition or when properly operating under pursuit conditions.  With regard to that, the officers must refer to a general order regarding vehicle pursuits for definition. 2. When operating a police vehicle under emergency conditions, the emergency lights and sirens must be utilized. 3. An officer may disregard an automatic traffic control or stop sign only when responding to an emergency situation under pursuit conditions.  Even then the officer must approach the intersection with caution and be prepared to stop.  The officer may proceed only when it is safe by clearing the intersection lane by lane.  The police vehicle must be prepared to take evasive action and brake if necessary.  In all cases the police vehicle operator must proceed with caution.

Under certain conditions police officers may make “silent runs”.  A silent run is the operation of a police vehicle under emergency conditions utilizing emergency lights but no sirens or other audible signal.  Silent runs are authorized for robberies, burglaries, burglaries in process or a situation in which the officer determines through his training experience requires silent run response to avoid alerting the criminal.  A police officer on a silent run still must stop at all stop signs and traffic signals and proceed safely.  In all instances he must operate his vehicle with caution and at a reasonable speed without endanger the life and property of others.  The violation of these rules may result in liability for the Police Department involved.

It is the policy of  the Indianapolis’ Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) to require all officers to operate the police vehicles with due regard for the safety of others.  This is required under General Order 4.16 whether it is a marked or unmarked police vehicle.  The police officer’s must exercise due caution at all times regardless of the nature of the run for the protection of the life and property for himself and for others.  Department personnel in both off-duty and on-duty status are prohibited from operating any city-owned vehicle after taking any “restricted” prescription medication, alcohol or intoxicant.  Indeed officers are prohibited from operating any city vehicle with any traceable amount of alcohol determined by chemical test.  The operation of a vehicle with a BAC above .08 and/or arrest for DWI for the first offense results in a ten day suspension, second violation; a thirty day suspension and on a third offense the officer will be dismissed.  Mandatory alcohol counseling is an additional requirement for any and all violations.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department recognizes that it is inevitable that police vehicles will be involved in accidents.  The IMPD requires that all vehicle traffic crashes to police vehicles will be investigated thoroughly and reported properly according to procedures established in General Order 7.4.  Under this general order, the police officer must contact the communication center immediately, who dispatches the necessary personnel and assistance to the location.  The vehicle must not be moved. When there are personal injuries, all injured parties will be sent to Wishard Hospital for treatment unless medical personnel  determine it necessary to transport to a hospital which is closer.

It is the responsibility of a designated IMPD crash investigator to investigate and report all details of an accident.  In Indianapolis, there is an Accident Review Board which was established under the direct authority under the Indianapolis Chief of Police as set forth in department’s rules and regulations.  The administrative body is responsible for review of all crashes, reports and investigations involving motor vehicles under the control of the police department.  Formal hearings and administrative reviews may be conducted in accordance with established procedures to determine compliance with the department’s orders, rules and policies.  While not a disciplinary board, the Accident Review Board will make specific recommendations for disciplinary action to the Disciplinary Board of Captains.  The Accident Review Board will make a judgment as to whether the accident was preventable or not preventable.

Despite all the rules and regulations “high speed” police chases create an extremely dangerous situation for pedestrians and motorists.  While it is the responsibility of local law enforcement to apprehend criminals to ensure the safety of the general public, when the pursuit of criminals puts innocent third parties in danger it is up to the officer making the “run” to make a decision that serves the greater good and the safety of the community.  Sometimes the “wise” decision is to ”break off” the “run” or ”chase”.  Often after these accidents there are many questions must be answered.  Why did police continue to pursue the vehicle; when the danger to the community was apparent? Did the police officer fail to comply with the polices, rules and regulation of his department?  Only an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you with obtaining this information and evaluating it.

If you are injured in a police chase crash or squad car accident, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who has represented persons seriously injured in similar circumstances.  Whether the incident involves officers from Indianapolis Police Department, Marion County Sheriffs Deputies or police officers from other police agencies, our office can help.  Contact our office for a free consultation with an experienced accident lawyer at (800) 636-0808 and see our website at  www.BillHurst.com

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Bill Hurst has successfully represented hundreds of accident victims, and has limited his practice to personal injury cases for over thirty-five (35) years. Bill has helped families with tragic life altering injuries and deaths. Bill has obtained substantial verdicts and settlements to compensate families for their losses. He is a graduate, with honors, from Indiana University School of Law. He has served on the Executive Committee and is a Director Emeritus of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association. He has published articles on various personal injury topics and has lectured at various legal seminars. Bill is listed in Naifeh and Smith, The Best Lawyers in America and has been for over ten (10) years, Bill is selected as a “Super Lawyer” by the Indianapolis Monthly Magazine from its first publication in 2002 to its most recent; he was selected as one of Indiana’s Top 100 Lawyers by the American Trial Lawyers Association. In 2000, Bill was named the Indiana Trial Lawyer Of The Year by the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association. Bill has the highest rating given by Martindale Hubble, as does his law firm. Bill has extensive litigation experience involving automobile, truck, motorcycle, bike accidents, slip and fall cases, product and manufacturing failures, dangerous drugs, product design, construction site accidents and more. He has represented clients not only in Indiana but also throughout the Country. Bill successfully represented the State of Indiana in the Tobacco Litigation. He has been involved in mass tort litigation, representing all women in the State of Indiana in the Norplant litigation, breast implant litigation, and represents represented numerous clients in the Vioxx litigation. Bill believes that every case is unique and requires special personal attention. You may email him at WHurst@MHJD.com or call (800) 636-0808 for a free consultation.