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Departments looking into recent officer-involved crashes

Posted at 5:07 AM, Nov 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-20 08:45:58-05

They are usually the ones coming to our rescue. But, lately, it seems the flashing blue and red lights of law enforcement have been the ones involved in car accidents themselves across the valley.

In less than four weeks, there have been four different car accidents involving police officers or troopers. Some of them have had serious injuries. 

The first one was on October 27 and it involved two Department of Public Safety troopers near the I-17 and Bethany Home Road. DPS says, due to their investigation, they are unable to tell us whether or not lights and sirens were activated.

However, video on scene shows lights were on, as well as witness Eric Rausch.

"He had his lights on because I think...he was trying to go somewhere," Rausch told ABC15 last month. "Or he was in a hurry to go somewhere." 

Trooper Kameron Lee said in an email, "One of the involved troopers has returned to work, the other is still out from injuries." 

The next crash involved Phoenix police near the I-17 and Camelback Road on October 30. We are still waiting for more details from the public information officer, who was out of the office when ABC15 asked for details.

However, another member of the department was able to give us more information on the third crash; the second in the last month involving Phoenix police.

This one was near 32nd Street and Thomas Road last Tuesday. Five people, including an officer and two children, were hurt in this crash. All are expected to be okay.

As for what caused it, Phoenix police tell us that the other car involved in the crash made a turn from an "improper lane and collided with the police vehicle." That officer was responding to a call, but did not have lights or sirens activated at the time of the collision. 

The fourth crash happened last Thursday on November 16 near 68th Street and Thomas Road. Scottsdale police say their officer is okay, but was transported to the hospital.

The officer was heading east on Thomas when he was working to pull over a motorcyclist without headlights on. He was following into the left turn lane on 68th Street, but as he made the left turn, officials say, the officer did not see another vehicle heading west on Thomas. That is when the crash occurred.

The officer had not activated lights and sirens. 

Determining if this is coincidence or a growing problem may come with more investigation. But, Sgt. Alan Pfohl with Phoenix Police said all drivers - including law enforcement - need to go back to the basics of driving and safety.

"The biggest thing we're seeing right now are the distractions," Sgt. Pfohl said.

He also said we are also seeing an increased number of cars hitting the road with winter visitors and holiday travel. It's even more of a reminder to stay aware while behind the wheel. 

Pfohl said that crashes also make the department take the hit, too. Phoenix police are already struggling with staffing and with an officer off duty because of a crash, that strains their resources even more. 

He also suggested that if there is an officer driving around you, whether they have lights or sirens on our not, give them some space if you can. Just because they do not have the flashing red and blue lights activated, they may be heading to a call anyway. 

"Space is at a premium sometimes," Sgt. Pfohl said. "But, if you can give them that space, please do so."