Dallas County Sheriff's traffic assist program running out of funds

Money is running out for the Dallas County Sheriff's Department Special Traffic Unit that has been working freeway accidents across the City of Dallas.

The sheriff's freeway management program was created in 2000 and has 69 deputies who solely work wrecks on Dallas freeways. It’s meant to help out Dallas police and drivers.

“A lot of times patrol officers aren’t comfortable working crashes or they were taught to hey you call an accident investigator to come out, so they would just secure the scene until an accident investigator comes out to actually work the crash,” said Captain Chris Smith, Dallas County Sheriff's Department.

The City of Dallas paid the county $600,000 annually to work freeway accidents, but may pull out of the program. The North Texas Council of Governments gave millions to the freeway program, but those funds are going away.    

FOX4 watched the deputies in action. Within minutes of arriving on the scene of a two-car crash on Stemmons Freeway, deputies moved those cars off the interstate system.

They then brought the drivers to Continental Street where they could exchange information and do their report. Meantime, traffic on Stemmons was able to start moving smoothly again.

“That allows people to get to work, get home, all those kinds of things -- and it has air quality implications,” said Dallas County Commissioner Mike Cantrell.

Cantrell says despite a nearly $13 million budget shortfall, commissioners are going to try to find a way to keep the freeway program from being pushed off the road.

“We feel like the benefit to all the core highways in the inner city is very beneficial,” Cantrell said. “We think it’s just good public policy.”

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