Online system causes amendment to accident report fees ordinance

2013-06-24T11:26:00Z Online system causes amendment to accident report fees ordinanceAnna Ortiz anna.ortiz@nwi.com nwitimes.com
June 24, 2013 11:26 am  • 

HAMMOND | Hammond police hope to expedite accident reports by using a new system.

The Hammond City Council is expected to take a final vote on an ordinance tonight that requires people to go online at buycrash.com to order copies of accident reports. The Hammond Police Department will no longer provide copies of accident reports, according to the ordinance.

City council members gave initial approval to the ordinance at their last meeting before sending it to committee for further review. 

The policy has been in effect since July 2012, but the city's current ordinance on accident reports does not reflect the new system.

Councilman Homero "Chico" Hinojosa, D-6th, said the ordinance will have a variety of benefits, such as saving on paperwork and being more efficient with employee time.

Hammond Police Lt. Pat Vicari estimates $5,000 will be generated from this new system. 

"With the budget cuts we've been having in past years, saving $5,000 would be very beneficial to the city," Hinojosa said. 

Hammond is a part of the state of Indiana's Traffic Safety Division's Traffic Records Program. The program uses an electronic crash report submission system rather than paper files at the police department office.

Vicari and Hinojosa said many other police departments in Indiana, like Merrillville and Indiana State Police, use this online system as well. 

Citizens who don't have Internet access can call (317) 215-8300 and have a report mailed to their address. 

Vicari said about 2003, the Hammond Police Department was introduced to an electronic accident report system, and in 2006, it became mandatory for officers to use the online system. Last year, a contract was signed where the police department received most of the profit, rather than the site owners collecting all of the fees as before. 

The cost is $12.50 for Hammond residents, opposed to the $10 charge when the police department handled the reports. The police department will collect $8 of the fee, while rest goes to privately-owned buycrash.com. 

While the department isn't seeing all of the fees as it was before, Vicari said the benefits of this system outweigh the negatives, not requiring residents to go to the police station for their paperwork and helping officers locate and monitor areas with the most accidents.

"Now I have a database at my fingertips, I can find hot spots and specific intersections where there's more accidents," Vicari said. "It's one of the best things the state has ever done."

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