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Police department sees rise in damaged vehicles

Three police cars damaged in less than three months, two of them totaled, makes Thomson Police Chief John Hathaway think his department might be snake bit.

"These things are going to happen. We patrol in a congested area, and that brings about the possibility of more damage. We might ding one up now and then, but this is definitely out of the ordinary," he said.

On April 18, a 1994 Ford Crown Victoria was totaled when an officer wrecked after a tractor-trailer cut him off on East Hill Street, according to a Georgia State Patrol report.. Officer Chris Bailey, who was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash, received minor injuries in the accident, Chief Hathaway said, adding all officers on the department were reminded seatbelts are mandatory for all personnel.

Two days later, another police cruiser was totaled on Gordon Street when an officer crashed a 1999 Crown Victoria into the back of another car while the officer was responding to a traffic accident. The officer, Josh Caston, was given one day off without pay, according to the chief. There were two injures to the occupants of the car the officer struck a Georgia State Patrol report stated.

The final accident occurred on June 4 when a deer ran in front of a 2000 Crown Victoria operated by Officer Don Hilson on Mount Pleasant Road.

The 2000 Ford was repaired for $3,400, according to Chief Hathaway. The 1994 Ford was scheduled to be replaced this year and will be in the next few weeks. The 1999 vehicle will be replaced next year as department funds are depleted for this year, the chief said.

"To total one in a year is unusual," he said. "Two a year is almost unheard of, even on bigger departments."

Web posted on Thursday, July 15, 2004

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