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Progress Report: How is Rockford Police’s new traffic accident policy working out?

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It’s been a little over a month since the City of Rockford enacted its new minor crash policy, which requires anyone involved in a crash, in which both cars are still drivable, to report it to the nearest police station instead of calling 911.

The procedure has caused some confusion in Loves Park, but Rockford Police say it’s helping them accomplish their goals.

Business owner Diane Marie Tope supports the initiative. “Whatever we can do as residents to help them is really good,” she said. “It would free our officers out there for something more important. There might be something more serious going on.”

Rockford Police Sergeant David Nicosia echoes that statement.

“It’s really been a good help for our resources. It frees up officers not having to respond to just minor crashes,” he said.

According to police policy, a minor crash is described as an incident with no injuries, where each driver has insurance and no cars need to be towed away.

However, since being implemented last month, Nicosia says the department still receives 911 calls for minor crashes.

“You’re always going to have people calling 911 when they should’ve called the non-emergency number,” he said.

But, he believes more and more drivers understand what they need to do.

“I can tell you that there has been an increase of reports to the front desk,” he continues. “They all come through me and I review them and I definitely see an increase, which means citizens are using it and it’s working as planned.”

More and more Loves Park drivers are starting to understand that the policy doesn’t apply to them.

When the changed policy was first implemented, Loves Park police said they saw a lot of drivers leave car crash scenes and report to their headquarters.

“We have got quite a few walk-ins for minor crashes,” said Loves Park Police Officer Chad Palmer.

Palmer said the department is willing to accept drivers who walk-in to report a crash, but the Loves Park Police do respond to traffic accidents.

“We’ll take one for them and then the other party will come in and want to file a report,” Palmer said. “We don’t know what’s going on with the two, because you start another report and say, ‘Oh, I just saw this information. Your stuff is in the mail on the way to you.”

Sergeant Nicosia and Officer Palmer both stress that it is still ok to call 911 for minor crashes, but want to remind residents that the non-emergency number is better suited to handle those incidents.

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