AURORA, Colo. — Expect to see six newly-wrapped Aurora Police vehicles hit the streets come mid-July, but don't expect to find a sworn officer inside.
Lt. Carrigan Bennett, with APD's traffic section, says the department is hiring a total of nine community service representatives. These are civilians, not sworn officers, that will be tasked with responding to minor crashes.
"These community service representatives will help free up these officers because there has been both a decrease in the number of officers nationwide, but there's also been an increase in traffic crashes nationwide," he said.
This team of civilians can help respond to a large percentage of the crashes in Aurora, Bennett says. And just like officers, they will be able to issue citations and determine fault, which can help with insurance claims.
"When you're in a crash, the more documentation you have of what happened, that's important. Those are all tools that insurance companies will use in their own investigation of who's at fault in that crash or if there is some culpability on both sides," said Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association.
Aurora's program is modeled after similar programs around the state, including Denver Police's, which introduced "crash report technicians" in 2017. Denver's program currently has 19 of them.
DPD says its technicians handled 6,910 crash reports in 2021. That amounts to about 11,155 hours that a sworn officer was able to be assigned to higher priority calls.
Aurora police officers hope to see a similar outcome.
"They understand the benefit that it's going to be to them to free up their time for other duties so that these folks can take the crashes," Bennett said.
Right now, the nine civilians Aurora PD is hiring are undergoing background checks. Once they complete a month-long training, they'll be ready to respond to crashes.