KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Changes are coming to the Knoxville Police Department as the agency prepares to no longer respond to certain non-injury car accidents.

According to KPD Chief Paul Noel, the changes come amid an analysis that showed officers, cumulatively, spend around 24 hours per day working minor, non-injury crashes. Noel said he hopes the changes will allow officers to respond to higher-priority and more pressing calls.

“What we want to do is reclaim that time and use that time for more proactive policing for fighting crime, having our officers more visible in our streets,” Noel said.

However, officers are expected to continue responding to certain types of crashes including those that:

• Result in injury or death
• Involve a suspected intoxicated driver
• Involve an uninsured or unlicensed driver
• Involve a hit-and-run with injury
• Result in a disabled vehicle in or on the roadway
• Involve a disorderly or uncooperative party
• Involve a Hazmat situation
• Involve a City of Knoxville vehicle, KAT transportation or a neighboring law enforcement agency upon request

“There’s not going to be any change in how we respond to accidents with injury.”

KPD Chief Paul Noel

If this type of operation sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Back during the height of the COVID pandemic, KPD officers did not respond to non-injury crashes in order to maintain social distancing. Furthermore, officers frequently enforce these changes during severe weather.

This strategy is also in different parts of the country, including Noel’s former police department in New Orleans.

“This is something that mirrors what we did here in Knoxville during COVID for a long period of time, where we did not respond to these accidents, non-injury accidents,” Noel explained. “That went very well here. Other cities are doing this. This is something that New Orleans did previously during hurricanes or other severe weather events.”

Questions erupt from Knoxville drivers

Yet, only a few hours after the announcement was made, questions erupted across social media. Because of those, WATE contacted two local insurance agencies to get viewers’ questions answered.

What do I do if I’m involved in a non-injury accident?

First, contact Knoxville police via 911 or the non-emergency line. Tell the dispatcher you have been involved in an accident and be prepared to answer questions. If dispatch decides not to send an officer to your location, documentation becomes key.

“Exchange information (driver’s license, insurance information, contact information),” local agent Stanton Oster explained. “In addition, taking pictures will be the best way to keep information. Take photos of both vehicles. Find any possible witnesses, if so, ask for their contact.”

What questions should I be prepared to answer from my insurance provider?

According to Oster, the following are standard questions many insurance providers will ask.

  • When did the accident occur?
  • What happened?
  • Where did it happen?
  • Is the vehicle drivable?
  • Is anyone injured?

How is fault decided without a police report?

“Driver statements, witness statements, and damage analysis is looked at by the insurance adjuster to determine fault,” Oster told WATE.

What happens once I finish speaking with my insurance provider?

“Your insurance company will then gather than information and then try to reach any other drivers involved to get their side of the story,’ State Farm Agent Jared Hall said. “If it’s pretty cut and dry, it can move pretty quickly as far as determining who is at fault, getting the cars fixed, and things like that.”

KPD’s changes are expected to begin on September 1, 2022. For more information, visit the City of Knoxville’s “What to do if you’re involved in a CRASH” webpage.