South Milwaukee police did not file an accident report last summer in connection with a collision in which former police chief Erick Slamka struck a parked car near his home and failed to stop.
Nor did they give Slamka a Breathalyzer test, although a responding officer said the former chief, now a member of the South Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, admitted to drinking earlier in the evening.
Responding officers determined the damage to the vehicles was not of enough monetary value to file an accident report and that Slamka was not impaired by alcohol use. According to Wisconsin state statute, a reportable accident is considered one involving $1,000 worth of damage. Officers made the determination that the amount of damage was less than that so filing a report wasn’t necessary, Police Chief Ann Wellens said.
Slamka and the neighbor whose vehicle he struck were allowed to settle reimbursement for damage between themselves.
“I had a very minor accident as I was returning home one night,” Slamka told a reporter. “There was a truck parked a block away; it was kind of sticking out. I clipped it with my side-view mirror on the right side.”
The passenger-side mirror on Slamka’s vehicle was broken, and there were scratches on the door, Lt. Chad Milow said.
“I wasn’t aware that I had clipped it,” Slamka said.
He said it cost a “couple of hundred” dollars to fix his car.
According to a South Milwaukee police log entry:
The incident occurred about 9:45 p.m. June 19. Slamka told the responding officer, Jon Rivamonte, that he was unaware that his vehicle had struck a vehicle parked in the street in the 300 block of Edgewood Avenue. Slamka said he had driven home from the nearby South Milwaukee Yacht Club, parked his car and gone inside his house.
However, the sound of the impact was loud enough to bring neighbors out of their house to see what had happened, said James Snead, whose 1994 Dodge Ram was clipped by Slamka’s side mirror. A friend of Snead’s saw the accident, and told Snead that a red Cadillac went around the corner following the impact.
Milow, the supervising officer on duty, went to the scene to assist Rivamonte and determined that filing an accident report was not necessary. Milow said that while Slamka indicated that he was drinking at the yacht club prior to the accident, Milow made the determination that he was not drunk and administering a Breathalyzer test was not necessary.
There was no citation issued in connection with the incident.
According to Milow, the manner in which the accident was handled is consistent with the way South Milwaukee police handle property damage-only accidents in which the damage is less than $1,000.
“That is common practice,” said Milow, who is the second-shift supervisor. “There was an understanding between the two parties that they would take care of it on their own.”
Milow said that police were not trying to protect Slamka in their handling of the incident.
“Who somebody is — that isn’t the case,” Milow said, adding that South Milwaukee police arrested one of their own senior officers two years ago for drunken driving. “There would be too much for us to lose.”
Rivamonte declined to comment when contacted by a reporter.
The police chief agreed that standard procedure was followed.
“He (Slamka) did not realize that he struck a vehicle, and we don’t automatically give Breathalyzers in every accident,” Wellens said. “Mr. Slamka was treated as any other citizen would have been treated.”
Slamka, 65, was sworn in as chief of the South Milwaukee Police Department in January 1988 and served in that post until July 1997. He is retired.
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