Greensboro NC November 2 2023
House Bill 140, ratified by Governor Roy Cooper in June, allows North Carolina cities to hire civilian employees to respond to minor traffic incidents, freeing up more officers to investigate criminal offenses. Now Greensboro is doing just that.
On October 4, the operational support division of the Greensboro police department listed job openings for “Civilian Traffic Investigators.” The new positions have a hiring salary range of $37,807 to $45,993, with a full salary range of $37,807 to $67,655.
Primary duties include “providing non-emergency services that are essential to motorist safety; such as assistance to stranded motorists, traffic direction, and vehicle crash investigation.”
Applicants must successfully complete classes designed by the North Carolina Justice Academy, along with at least 160 hours of field training with a law enforcement officer who has experience conducting traffic crash investigations. After successful completion of both classroom and field training, the new hires will monitor radio dispatch for vehicle crashes, traffic hazards, and disabled vehicles, and respond to incidents by conducting on-scene investigations and providing assistance to involved motorists.
According to the job listing, the employee must complete all documentation of such incidents. They will also be required to utilize a body-worn camera during all citizen interactions, and must “possess excellent interpersonal, verbal, and written communication skills.”
Other required assistance includes changing tires, providing sufficient fuel to relocate vehicles to the nearest gas station, providing traffic directions until the hazard is removed from the roadway, and assisting the traffic safety unit during such special events as traffic enforcement campaigns, license-checking stations, DWI checkpoints, and preplanned city-permitted road closures. Duties will also require transporting cones, barricades, light trailers, and other equipment, as well as being responsible for removing vehicles subsequent to checkpoints.
Minimum qualifications include a high school diploma / GED; traffic direction skills; basic mechanical skills with small tools (including the ability to change a tire); and a valid driver’s license. Preferred qualifications include experience working in law enforcement.
The civilian traffic investigators will not wear police uniforms, will not be armed, and are not authorized to make arrests. They can only investigate property damage, not criminal liability.
According to GPD public safety research scientist & evaluator Josie Cambareri, the Civilian Traffic Investigators/Greensboro Motorist Assistance Program (CTI/GMAP) will provide “a huge benefit to our officers and Greensboro residents, especially with the staffing shortages we have experienced in the last few years.”
Once the CTI/GMAP employees are hired and trained, said Cambareri, Greensboro police officers will only respond to traffic accidents that result in injuries, while the CTIs will respond to “minor crashes and other low-priority traffic hazards, and will be equipped to serve the motoring public.” According to Cambareri, this “allows officers more opportunity for enforcement, community engagement, and proactively addressing violent crime.”
Cambareri provided the following hypothetical scenario.
“A minor traffic accident happens at Holden and Market, where there are no injuries. However, there is debris in the roadway and traffic must be redirected because it is a busy intersection. In this situation, the CTIs would be able to respond and complete the accident report, clear debris, redirect traffic, set out cones, and call any required towing, etc. Without the CTIs, this call might hold up three officers for a total of three hours each. The hope is CTIs can respond and free up one, two, or all three of those officers, depending on the call load for the day. And those three officers could be focused on enforcing traffic laws or doing follow-up on a shooting from the night before or responding to other emergency calls.”
Cambareri called this new division of labor “certainly a good thing,” noting that the new law is “written to preclude agencies from ‘replacing’ officers with these positions,” and thus cannot be used as a reason for the GPD to reduce its force of sworn officers, which she called “another good thing!”