Chattanooga police officers no longer responding to all traffic crashes in order to focus more on violent crime

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / A vehicle is wedged beneath a semi after an afternoon multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 24 eastbound that temporarily closed the highway Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn. At least half a dozen vehicles were involved along with a semi-trailer.

Chattanooga police officers are no longer required to respond in person to traffic crashes unless a crash meets one of the following eight listed qualifications, according to news release from the Chattanooga Police Department:

– Death or injury

– Hit and run

– Impairment of an operator due to alcohol or drugs

– Government-owned vehicles or property

– Hazardous materials

– Disturbances between principals

– Major traffic congestion as a result of the crash

– Damage to vehicles to the extent towing is required

The department released information about the new protocol Wednesday. The change is being made "due to officers spending large amounts of time on traffic crashes that are ... considered lower on the scale of priority due to no injury or lack of severe property damage," according to a news release.

The shift will also allow officers to focus more on violent crime in the city, the release said. The department has been spending 35 or more hours a day on traffic crashes that are not within the eight qualifying exceptions, and the estimate is up to 18 hours of that time could be given to neighborhood policing officers.

People involved in crashes that fall outside the eight qualifying situations should still call dispatch to report the crash, and dispatch will then let the involved people know how they will report the crash to the city and the state. The involved people will be transferred to a recording within the Police Department that will explain their reporting requirements and the steps needed to fulfill those requirements.

– Compiled by Kim Sebring