CPD Policy: Traffic vests, emergency lights not required during Hamill Road call
Officer Nicholas Galinger was just a few weeks into a 16-week field training process when he died, according to his Field Training Officer (FTO), Jarrod Justice.
Officer Justice took the stand Tuesday as an eyewitness to the hit and run that killed his trainee.
The woman charged in the hit and run is out of jail on bond.
READ MORE | UPDATE: Woman charged in deadly hit and run on Hamill Road released on bond
The night of the incident, Justice says he and Galinger were riding in the same patrol car. About an hour into their shift. They were dispatched to a "check hazard call" in response to an overflowing manhole on Hamill Road.
“We were coming south from Hamill road and off to our left there was a driveway right beside the manhole cover so we pulled into the driveway to get out and inspect the manhole cover and inspect the barricade that had been set up,” said Justice.
District attorney Neal Pinkston asked if both Justice and Galinger inspected the manhole and the barricade on the road and if they both went into the street. Justice replied, “yes sir” to both questions.
Justice said because they were not there to stop or block traffic, he did not turn on emergency lights on the patrol car.
“In my experience at nighttime when you activate your blue lights it can actually be a distraction to drivers so I didn't want to distract anyone from being able to see the barricade,” he explained.
Officer Justice went on to say they were not wearing any reflective gear. They were just their navy blue uniforms. However, he could not recall is Galinger was wearing a raincoat, which sometimes are reflective.
“We typically have yellow reflective traffic vests that we would wear, but as I said we weren't there to direct traffic and the intention was not to stay in the roadway. we didn't put any of that on,” said Justice.
According to a Chattanooga Police Department spokesperson and department policy, because the officers were not responding to an "emergency call or situation,” they were not obligated to turn on emergency sirens or lights. They were also not required to wear traffic vests because they were not directing traffic.
Channel 3 asked a spokesperson for the department if there will be a review of the department handbook in light of Galinger's death. The spokesperson said he's not aware of any at this time and that policies within the handbook are routinely updated. He would not specify when the last updates took place.
The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) is investigating the workplace fatality and what circumstances led to it. In an email, a spokesperson explained they have been investigating since February 24, 2019. It also states, “The agency does not release any preliminary information during the investigative process. The file will be open for public review once the investigation is closed. TOSHA has not inspected the Chattanooga Police Department in the past 5 years.”