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Montgomery County looks to finalize new tow policy (TX)

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Montgomery County looks to finalize new tow policy following January workshop

 

After eight years of discussions, Montgomery County officials and towing companies will come together one more time to finalize a tow policy to do away with the antiquated chip system and move to a rotation list.

Commissioners will meet at 6 p.m. Jan. 9 for a workshop.

 

House Bill 2213, authored and passed in 2015 by state Rep. Will Metcalf, R-Conroe enables the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office to create tow-rotation lists for unincorporated areas of the county, instead of using the existing chipping system that promotes numerous tow-truck drivers hastily trying to get to scenes in order to get their chip in the bag.

 

The court last addressed the draft tow policy in 2017 but ultimately tabled the issue.

 

The action to schedule the workshop came after a dozen tow truck drivers spoke to commissioners Tuesday about concern over the policy that was on the court’s agenda for discussion and action.

 

Several speakers told the court the large number of trucks on accident scenes is not the fault of the tow industry but rather an issue with law enforcement.

 

“I hate to point this finger but the solution to the problem is to have Montgomery County Sheriff deputies work their own scenes,” Clinton Bass with Bass Towing and Recovery. “Right now, we are sitting on scenes for 45 minutes to an hour with a deputy on scene waiting for (the Department of Public Safety) to get there.

 

“The problem is not the tow trucks; the problem is the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department.”

Sheriff Rand Henderson said that criticism is not accurate.

 

“I strongly disagree with that statement,” Henderson told The Courier Friday.

 

According to the Federal Highway Administration, jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies varies widely from state to state and even within a state. Typically, state police and highway patrols have jurisdiction on state highways and county and municipal police have jurisdiction off the state highway system.

 

In fact, in October, there were 586 accidents in the unincorporated area of Montgomery County. Of those, sheriff’s office personnel investigated 206 or 35.2 percent, according to data from MCSO. The data also noted MCSO is the primary 911 agency for the county and deputies are responsible for responding to every 911 call. In October, deputies responded to a total of 34,025 calls and incidents.

 

Other drivers questioned some sections of the policy.

 

Russell Schoonover with Texan Towing and Recovery said the requirement to respond to a scene within 15 minutes of being called was unrealistic and could result in a penalty if a driver can’t make it to a scene with in that time allotment.

“Fifteen minutes is not very long to make a rotation,” Schoonover said adding he was unaware of any other city or county with a similar time frame. “We have officers that can’t respond to calls in fifteen minutes and you expect a wrecker to make it there in 15 minutes?”

 

Charles Miller with Miller Towing and Recovery told commissioners the tow truck definitions were too vague and should be more specific for safety.

 

“We need to not just look at the chassis of the truck, we need to look at the bed on the truck as well,” he said.

Miller also noted the policy should allow for tow trucks to be added as business fluctuates throughout the year.

Lastly, several drivers told commissioners the requirement for drivers to own storage lot would be a financial burden for smaller companies.

 

Henderson, who has been working to craft the policy, said he doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s business.

 

“In order for us to move forward with the modernization of the sheriff’s office, this is something we need,” he said. “We believe this is the best system for Montgomery County. By no means is it perfect; we know there will be issues.”

 

Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador agrees.

 

“It has been in the works a long time and there is no perfect way to do it,” he said.

 

Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said his concern was avoiding so many trucks on scene and drivers rushing to get to scenes.

 

“The goal is getting wreckers to scenes effectively and efficiently to tow vehicles,” he said adding he also didn’t want drivers to be penalized if they can’t meet the time requirement to get to a scene with the rotation scenario. “I don’t want to fine anybody and I don’t want to put anyone on a do not call list.”

 

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The comments by these law enforcement administrators are realistic and I'm pleased to see that they don't want new policy to put anyone company out of business. But, like their comments say, there will be issues. And, that means that the new rotation process won't be right for all companies.     R.


Randall C. Resch

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There is "Nothing Good About Wreck Chasing"

 

Half a Dozen Companies with very few requirements run around chasing scanner calls.

Hoovering like Wild Animals to a Road Kill ready for the opportunity to pounce on motorists.

Motorists that are generally easily confused and taken advantage of (sometimes by lies).

This is just my opinion on Wreck Chasing, it no longer happens here as the officers got

fed up with the new guys approaching the scene before being asked to and scamming

those involved in the accident (telling them they represent their insurance or motor club).

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