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Patrol car accident being reviewed

9/27/2013

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

Tuesday's accident involving a Hays Police Department cruiser remains under investigation by the Ellis County Sheriff's office.

As a result, a decision has not yet been made on whether a citation will be issued, Sheriff Ed Harbin said Thursday.

The accident was reported shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday in the 300 block of West 27th.

HPD officer Dustin Gall apparently was distracted as he looked down at an in-car computer and ran into the back of a vehicle driven by Stephanie Calvery, Hays.

Both vehicles were eastbound on 27th Street, but Calvery reportedly had stopped to make a turn.

The patrol cruiser sustained extensive damage and was towed to the city of Hays shop so it could be examined.

Assistant Hays Police Chief Brian Dawson said it's not yet known if the cruiser can be returned to service or not.

Rather than investigate the accident itself, HPD asked the sheriff's office to take over.

No decision has been made if Gall will be cited, and Dawson said that decision will fall to the sheriff's office.

Internally, Dawson said the police department is reviewing the incident and awaiting the accident report from the sheriff's office.

Dawson said he's requested a copy of the report when it's ready.

"Our goal is keeping accidents from happening," he said.

Harbin couldn't say if a citation will be issued.

"It's not as though they're not looking into it," he said. "They're discussing what should happen. The investigation is still going on."

State law exempts law enforcement from prohibitions against texting while driving or operating an in-car computer terminal, provided its in the line of duty.

Dawson said it's normal procedure for HPD to ask another agency, such as the sheriff's office, to investigate events such as an accident.

"So there doesn't seem to be any improprieties," he said.