Video shows APD cruiser crashing into car

Video shows APD cruiser crashing into car

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When police officers crash they are no longer able to protect and serve.

Instead of continuing to assist in this foot pursuit of a suspect, Austin police officer, Ricardo Aguilar, now needs help for himself and the driver of this banged-up Isuzu.

Aguilar was suspended for one day for violating APD rules and regulations for safe driving.

"I got two subjects running from the vehicle," said APD Officer Joshua Muchnikoff.

During a ride-a-long with Muchnikoff, he gets a "code 3"--lights and sirens.

"They're not gonna stop." Muchnikoff said, "By policy, when we get to an intersection, I'm required to come to a full stop if it's at a red light and clear it so that all the vehicles at that intersection know I'm going through it."

Muchnikoff may be on a hot-shot call, but he can't help catch anyone if he crashes his cruiser.

"We have to be very aware of how we're getting there, where we're going, so that we do get there, otherwise, we're wasting resources," he added.

"There's different levels of negligence," said Austin Police Chief, Art Acevedo. "Internally, we take a look at it as a management team, as a leadership team to see what are the total circumstances."

Numbers obtained through open records requests for 2013 show five Austin Police officers were temporarily suspended in December.

Two of them were because of officer-involved crashes.

"The city has a general liability fund...that, that's where they find funding, budget funding to settle," said Acevedo.

Acevedo suspended officer Cantu for one day after this collision.

"Sometimes it's counseling. Sometimes it's a written counseling, sometimes it's a written reprimand, sometimes it's some days off," said Acevedo.

In 2013, APD had 13 temporary suspensions because of traffic crashes.

The officers had to take between one and four days off from work.

Acevedo said, "I'd be surprised if anybody just got a one day suspension for entering an intersection at 80 miles an hour, against a red. I don't know of any cases that match that description."

This case comes close.

According to the suspension report, officer Ricardo Aguilar was driving up to 83 miles per hour in this video

If you look at the signal at the intersection of east 12th and Airport boulevard, you can see the light is green.

"We want our officers to be aggressive, but not overly aggressive. We want them to be aggressive, but safe," Chief Acevedo said. "It is a very challenging city to police in."

Muchnikoff added, "The most dangerous thing for a cop to do...is drive."

It's how the majority of them are killed each year.

Austin is no exception.

"If you double the next fatality rate, car fatalities are still higher," said Muchnikoff.

The Officer Down Memorial Page shows law enforcement auto-related deaths are up by 20% so far this year.

Acevedo said, "Safety is a shared responsibility. Safety is the responsibility of every single person that operates a motor vehicle."

Most people know when they're in the outside lane of traffic and they see lights and sirens...to pull over to the right shoulder.

If you're driving on the inside lane of traffic, the same rules apply. Don't panic, ease off the gas, turn on your blinker and slowly make your way over to the right.

Anyone can be at fault in a crash.

A police officer's job is to serve and protect the community...out on the streets and behind the wheel.

Chief Acevedo says they're looking into adding some continuing driving training for officers.

The department is also on the verge of getting bigger buttons on cruiser consoles, screens that are easier to read and an automated CAD system that will read officers call updates out loud.

In 2013, Austin-Travis county EMS was involved in 34 fleet accidents.

No employees were disciplined or suspended.

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