Drivers whose cars are towed often call the Fayetteville Police Department to find out what happened to their vehicles.
Often, police have no clue.
The department wants to change that by requiring towing operators to report electronically where vehicles are towed. Anyone with Web access, including the Police Department, could then quickly find information about vehicles towed from accident scenes, roadsides or private property.
Electronic reporting is one of several proposals the Police Department is pushing in the first major overhaul to the city's wrecker ordinance since it was adopted in the 1960s.
Other proposals include banning tow-truck drivers with felony records, requiring additional driver training and making towing companies have at least one medium-sized truck in their fleets to handle larger vehicles.
Police Sgt. Eric Dow, who is overseeing the proposed changes, said the department wants to simplify things for residents and help make the towing industry more professional.
The City Council was prepared to vote on the changes last month when members of the Cumberland County Wrecker Owners Association raised several concerns. The council agreed to have the city's wrecker review board discuss the proposals and consider recommendations from the association's lawyer, Michael McGovern of Knoxville, Tenn.
Mayor Tony Chavonne said the city needs to update the wrecker ordinance, but he wanted to give towing companies one more chance for input.
The wrecker review board met Tuesday and covered several of the proposals, including electronic reporting. The board plans to meet once more before the revised ordinance goes back to the City Council in January.
Electronic reporting would require towing operators to buy laptops or smart phones with Internet access, if they haven't already. They would be required to log information about vehicles they tow by using free, Web-based software accessible to the public. They would have to input the information within an hour after a tow during the day, or by 9 a.m. the next business day if the tow is after 5 p.m.
Some wrecker companies object to the electronic reporting. But Councilman Bill Crisp told the wrecker review board that he supports the requirement. He said the Internet "is here to stay, and you will have a year to come into compliance. We need an electronic system of reporting and handling these calls."
Dow said the Police Department has a rotation list with 34 towing companies that are summoned for accidents, abandoned vehicles and other situations. More than 7,000 vehicles are towed each year from this list. He said police don't always know immediately where vehicles are taken.
Many vehicles in the city are towed from private property without a police call. The proposed electronic reporting requirement would apply in those situations, too, Dow said.
He said about half the companies on the rotation already use electronic reporting. The Police Department's Web site has a link to the electronic reports.
The rest of the proposed changes to the ordinance would apply only to towing companies on the police rotation list.
Mark Norton, a towing operator who is on the wrecker review board, said some opposition to the changes can't be helped.
"But we have to work with the Police Department," he said. "The goal is we want to be professionals."
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Proposals For Wrecker Law In Fayetteville, NC Include Online Towing Reports
Here's the Fayetteville Observer story:
Posted by Cyndi Kight, Associate Editor of Towing & Recovery Footnotes at 12:12 PM