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App could speed up tow calls

By Samantha Smith

A new phone app is helping the Austin Police Department (APD) clear accident scenes faster, but whether the Buda and Kyle Police Departments would implement the app remains to be seen.  

Traditionally, a city’s police department has a rotation schedule associated with wrecker companies being called out to clear accident scenes for the police where each company gets an equal share in calls. 

The AutoReturn App is a contracted service that APD has used for over a year that has drastically reduced response times from wreckers to accident scenes. 

When officers respond to the scene of an accident, they typically call their dispatch and have a call sent out to the next wrecker company on the rotation to tow away a vehicle. 

Austin Police officers were waiting an average of 20-30 minutes for a wrecker to show up before they started using the app. Austin Police officers now only have to wait eight minutes. 

The app sends out a message to every wrecker company that is contracted with the service, which drivers receive on their smart phones. The closest driver to the scene is the one who responds to the call. 

Since Austin is the only city in Texas to use this technology, would it be right for the cities of Kyle and Buda?

Buda Police Chief Bo Kidd says that Buda Police might be interested in using the app, depending on the overall cost involved and whether or not it would drastically change the current wrecker rotation in place. 

Kidd also mentioned that he would like to get input from the wrecker companies in Buda to assess citizens’ feelings on the use of the app. 

“We always want to stay at the forefront of technology.” Kidd says, but he adds that Buda city council might have to be involved if the app is insanely expensive or if it disrupts the tow truck ordinance already in place. 

Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett says that the rotation system currently in effect in Kyle is working well and he doesn’t see the need for this kind of technology if it affects the rotation system. 

If the Kyle City Council and the wrecker companies that already service the city were interested in this technology, Barnett says he would be more than willing to look into using the app. 

“We are always looking for ways to improve services to the citizens of Kyle,” Barnett said. 

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