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Police Complaints Board Recommends Better Officer Training on Investigating and Responding to Minor Traffic Accidents

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

(Washington DC) The Police Complaints Board (PCB), the governing body of the Office of the Police Complaints (OPC), today submitted a report and recommendations to Mayor Vincent C. Gray, the Council of the District of Columbia, and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Cathy L. Lanier urging better training for MPD officers on how to properly investigate and report minor traffic accidents. 

Over the years, OPC has received complaints from drivers alleging that officers failed to prepare a “Traffic Crash Report,” commonly known as an accident report, upon arriving at the scene of a traffic accident. 

Under current MPD policy, officers prepare an accident report when a traffic crash results in death or injury to the motorist or the passenger, or renders inoperable one of the vehicles involved in the crash.  Another, less detailed form called a “PD Form 10-C” is issued for a minor traffic accident, or “fender bender.” 

A review conducted by PCB revealed that MPD officers were not providing PD Form 10-Cs to individuals involved in minor traffic accidents.  During the review, it was also discovered that some officers did not inform drivers involved in minor traffic accidents that a Traffic Crash Report was not required. 

PCB further noted deficiencies in MPD’s policy that requires officers to ensure that motorists are exchanging accurate information only under certain circumstances.  PCB proposes that the policy be extended to require the exchange of accurate information with respect to all types of traffic accidents, as the information will need to be reported to the parties’ insurance carriers. 

PCB also recommends in its report that MPD retrain its officers on the departmental policy that details the procedures for responding to traffic accidents.

As a public education measure, PCB further recommends that MPD and the District’s Department of Transportation (DDOT) post information online for the public setting forth the agencies’ policies regarding the completion of traffic reports. 

During the course of its review, PCB learned that MPD and DDOT plan to issue a revised PD Form 10-C in an effort to capture more accurate information about minor traffic accidents in the District.  The board commends these efforts, and urges the two agencies to release the revised form as soon as possible so that it can be made readily available to the public.

To view a full copy of PCB’s full report and recommendations, visit our website at