This past weekend I took crash number 6,000 of my traffic career. Some people might wonder how I know that. Well, it’s because I’ve written down every report number in steno pads since I started working in the traffic detail.
When I first started, my traffic training officer suggested I get a steno pad and keep track because it would come up when I had to testify. From that moment on I started writing each and every report number down. At the end of the month I’d count the number of collisions I took and then add it to the running total.
Over the years I’ve filled up steno pads as the number of collisions continued to rise like the stairways of the world’s tallest buildings. First there was 100 and then 200 as the crashes started to stack up.
I remember the night I hit 1,000. It was a pursuit crash, which turned into a mess after another department chased a car into our city. I thought 1,000 sounded pretty cool at the time.
The years continued to pass as the 2K and 3K milestones were hit. As I got closer to 4,000 I told some friends it was coming up. I’d go to calls and people would ask me what number I was on. Finally 4,000 came when a DUI driver crashed and rolled his vehicle.
The next milestone was 5,000 that occurred when a bicyclist got hit by a car in an injury collision. Not too long after that, the watch commander came up to me and said, “I heard about 5,000. I’m not sure if I should congratulate you or say I’m sorry.”
So, Friday night came and I only needed 3 more collisions before I hit 6,000. Who was it going to be? Which person was going to be unlucky 6,000? It came at 1:30AM when a red SUV crashed into a traffic signal pole. This particular vehicle had such major damage it would never see the road again.
What would be the best way to commemorate 6,000?
This past year my call sign was changed to 729 after I had been 784 for 15 years. I stood in the street and decided I would use my old call sign because that’s what I used at 1K, 2K, 3K, 4K and 5K. I figured why not.
So, I got on the radio and asked for a traffic collision report number for the 6,000th time as I said, “784, time and DR.”
The dispatcher replied by calling me “784” as she gave me the report number. I wrote it down with a smile because 784 was alive and well one more time at the scene of a car accident.
A tip of the hat to you and the other “Traffic” or “Motor” or “Crash” units in police departments and Highway Patrols across the country. Accident investigation never rang my bell and I found my place in detectives. However, one of my favorite characters in my fiction made his appearance in SIDE SLIP, the third of my crime series (to be released later in 2016). A Florida Trooper who adds much more than his accident reconsructionist skills to a felony investigation. He may re-appear in the next book still forming in my research files. As you know, often there is much more to the story than metal crashing into metal.
I’m going to have to read one of your books soon.
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One of the first “breaks” in the fictional double murder comes from a vehicle accident report handled by uniformed officers. Uniformed officers are featured in all three of my crime novels. The detectives cannot and do not do it all by themselves. I have not forgotten where I came from.
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I am convinced you can conduct a crash investigation in your sleep! Congratulations on your latest milestone. I love the Steno pad collection. That is something for your desk or in a shadowbox after retirement. I enjoy reading your blog. The humor side of it is just awesome.
Thanks so much. I appreciate!