Police chief orders extra ‘driver’s ed’ for officers after string of crashes

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Nine police vehicles have been damaged by minor accidents since April 5 compared to six in all of 2016, said Chief Mark McCrory. (Source: Casa Grande Police Dept.)) Nine police vehicles have been damaged by minor accidents since April 5 compared to six in all of 2016, said Chief Mark McCrory. (Source: Casa Grande Police Dept.))
Nine police vehicles have been damaged by minor accidents since April 5 compared to six in all of 2016, said Chief Mark McCrory. (Source: Casa Grande Police Dept.)) Nine police vehicles have been damaged by minor accidents since April 5 compared to six in all of 2016, said Chief Mark McCrory. (Source: Casa Grande Police Dept.))
Nine police vehicles have been damaged by minor accidents since April 5 compared to six in all of 2016, said Chief Mark McCrory. (Source: Casa Grande Police Dept.)) Nine police vehicles have been damaged by minor accidents since April 5 compared to six in all of 2016, said Chief Mark McCrory. (Source: Casa Grande Police Dept.))
Nine police vehicles have been damaged by minor accidents since April 5 compared to six in all of 2016, said Chief Mark McCrory. (Source: Casa Grande Police Dept.)) Nine police vehicles have been damaged by minor accidents since April 5 compared to six in all of 2016, said Chief Mark McCrory. (Source: Casa Grande Police Dept.))
Casa Grande police officers have been ordered to take extra driver safety training after a spike in fender benders involving police vehicles. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Casa Grande police officers have been ordered to take extra driver safety training after a spike in fender benders involving police vehicles. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
CASA GRANDE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Casa Grande Police chief is ordering all of his officers to take extra driver safety training after a spike in fender benders involving police vehicles.

Nine police vehicles have been damaged by minor accidents since April 5 compared to six in all of 2016, said Chief Mark McCrory.

“We are tasked with enforcing traffic laws. We are tasked with traffic safety presentations, and the sheer number of preventable accidents or collisions that we've had, personally, I find embarrassing,” he said.

McCrory said he’s embarrassed because of the timing: the Casa Grande City Council just signed off on a plan to let the police department launch a vehicle take-home program last month.

“Part of that program is to extend the life of a police car and to take better care of a police car, and then when we hit this rash of damaged vehicles, to me that's embarrassing,” he added.

Two of the nine damaged patrol units were part of the take-home vehicle program, he said.

Chief McCrory said he does not think his officers are bad drivers; he just thinks they could benefit from a refresher course.

“We test with our firearms very regularly, in some cases weekly, and I think it's just time we do the same thing with our vehicles,” he said.

All 80 sworn officers will get in-house training on accident avoidance, McCrory said. They will also take an online driver safety course developed specifically for police officers.

He said the goal of the training is to improve officer safety and demonstrate the department's commitment to responsibly handling equipment purchased with taxpayer funds.

No one has been hurt in these incidents, and McCrory said he feels a duty to keep it that way.

“I would much rather be having this conversation with you now, with what truly amounts to fender benders, than to sit here talking to you about one of our officers being killed in a vehicle collision,” McCrory said. “That's what we're stressing to our officers: this is just preventative.”

"We're proactive in our fight against crime, so why not be proactive in keeping ourselves safe?" he added.

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Derek StaahlDerek Staahl is an Emmy Award-winning reporter and fill-in anchor who loves covering stories that matter most to Arizona families.

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Derek Staahl

This once-uncompromising "California guy" got his first taste of Arizona in 2015 while covering spring training baseball for his former station. The trip spanned just three days, but Derek quickly decided Phoenix should be his next address. He joined CBS 5 and 3TV four months later, in August 2015. Before packing his bags for the Valley of the Sun, Derek spent nearly four years at XETV in San Diego, where he was promoted to Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter. Derek chaired the Saturday and Sunday 10 p.m. newscasts, which regularly earned the station's highest ratings for a news program each week. Derek’s investigative reporting efforts into the Mayor Bob Filner scandal in 2013 sparked a "governance crisis" for the city of San Diego and was profiled by the region’s top newspaper. Derek broke into the news business at WKOW-TV in Madison, WI. He wrote, shot, edited, and presented stories during the week, and produced newscasts on the weekends. By the end of his stint, he was promoted to part-time anchor on WKOW’s sister station, WMSN. Derek was born in Los Angeles and was named the “Undergraduate Broadcast Journalism Student of the Year” in his graduating class at USC. He also played quads in the school’s famous drumline. When not reporting the news, Derek enjoys playing drumset, sand volleyball, and baseball.

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