The Week's Features
Three-time cancer survivor is doing what he loves
App, web-based service provides lien-holder contact information
Digital Recognition Network CEO lays out company's vision
Unit designed to bring greater awareness to Move Over law
Buddy's gets farmer's tractor with corn silage in open field
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingAugust 23 - August 29, 2017

City, State
RATES
North:
Bronx, NY
$125
(Pop. 1,438,159)
South:
Charlotte, NC
$85
(Pop. 809,958)
East:
Baltimore, MD
$85
(Pop. 622,104)
West:
San Jose, CA
$200
(Pop. 1,015,785)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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Which Wolf Are You Feeding?

Wolves a8690By Don G. Archer

On Nov. 10, 2016, the wolves were at the door in Lake County, Ind., for Sheriff John Buncich. FBI Agents were raiding his office over concerns of corruption charges centered on allegations of bribery for contracts for towing companies; a pay-to-play scheme.

Little more than a month later, Lake County Police Chief Timothy Downs (Buncich's boss) plead guilty to charges that he solicited campaign donations from tow operators in exchange for more territory. Downs said he did it to keep his job, so that he would continue to receive a salary. Buncich has yet to come clean.

We condemn corruption from all quarters; but when it emanates from positions of authority like law enforcement it's especially heinous.

How and why did it happen?

Another story might help us understand:

A wise grandmother was tucking her grandson into bed when he begged her to tell him a story. She agreed and decided to tell him the one about the two wolves who battle.

She starts by describing how everyone in the world has two wolves that live inside. These wolves are constantly battling for dominance over us.

One of the wolves is jealous and full of envy. He's malicious and has a fixed mindset. He believes that the world is cold and full of bad people, and that he must do whatever it takes, right or wrong, to get and stay on top. He's very negative and nothing good ever happens for him.

Then there's the other wolf who's completely the opposite. He's very powerful and operates out of empathy, love and positivity. He believes that anything can be accomplished if you give it your all and put your heart into it. Many good things happen for him.

At this point in the story the grandson begins to drift off to sleep but doesn't want to miss out on the ending. He stops his grandmother and looks up at her and asks, "Grandmother, which wolf wins the battle?" The grandmother smiles and leans in close to the boy's face, and says, "The one you feed."

It's apparent that these law enforcement officials were feeding the wrong wolf. It would be a mistake to just let the story lie there.

What about the towing companies involved? It takes two to tango.

Although other towing companies were involved, only William Szarmach, of CSA Towing was indicted. He faces charges of wire fraud and bribery. "Individual A," the owner of another towing company involved, cooperated with prosecutors and will, seemingly, avoid further litigation.

Before this sting occurred, both towing company owners, and law enforcement officials alike, probably believed what they were doing was justified. It was for the furtherance of their businesses and their careers. The towers were looking for more territory, which meant more money. The officers needed to be re-elected so they could maintain status and power.

Could it be that the desire for these things was wrong?

Rather than blaming the result of their actions on the want for more, maybe we should look elsewhere. We all want to do the best we can in any endeavor; there's nothing wrong with that. What was wrong was their method of getting there.

For the towers involved, it probably didn't start on day one. They didn't intend to go down that road. Most likely it was a slow erosion of the soul through months and years of seeing all that is wrong with the world—and then letting it seep inside. A continuous feeding of the jealous and envious wolf, while starving the good wolf. Then, like a bolt of lightning, an opportunity presents itself, a way to move forward.

Though it was against the law, they succumbed ... because the bad wolf was stronger.

In the case of the officers involved, it was probably the same story. Pride, and fear of loss overrode what was instinctively wrong and outside the law—and they fell.

It could be argued that the officers involved should face a higher degree of punishment than the towers. If the door weren't opened there would be no case.

But does placing a higher degree of blame do any of us any good?

When we point to people and circumstances outside ourselves as reasons why we are where we are, rather than accepting responsibility for what we've become, we're feeding the wrong wolf.

American Towman Field Editor-Midwest Don G. Archer is also a multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at TheTowAcademy.com. Don and his wife, Brenda, formerly owned and operated Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. E-mail him direct at don@thetowacademy.com.
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What's Your Company's Cellphone Policy?

tbo2 70b09By Randall C. Resch

While we're quick to climb on the bandwagon and blame distracted drivers failing to move over and cause tow operator fatalities, it's commonplace to see tow operators talking on their cellphones while driving, loading, unloading or recovering vehicles.

Use of personal cellphones in today's workplace is prevalent and interrupts employee focus and efficiency. By the very nature of what tow operators do, the combined use of cellphones with tow truck operations is a dangerous practice.

If reproaching motorists for distracted driving is an ongoing practice by towers, shouldn't there be a demand for towmen not to be distracted in the same way?

The Rules Say

It's simple to accept that when a company's Employee Handbook doesn't address the issue of prohibiting on-duty cellphone use, doing so may not violate a company's rules or procedures. If a company cellphone is provided to a driver and you require your drivers or employees to use it, a different set of guidelines and actions may be necessary.

Some companies supply employees with phones and stipulate that minimum personal use is OK. Some say, "No way!" Others monitor phone records. That's fine; but what designates dangerous use vs. social and untimely, in-the-way, distracting conversations at the wrong time?

I believe social interraction and roadside safety are at opposing ends of the sepctrum.

Towing and recovery businesses should demand that employees focus on the duties and activities of their position at all times. Personal cellphones tend to get in the way of an employee's ability to conduct work. Policy should be directed at limiting cellphone use only during the employee's breaks, on lunch, for emergency purposes and official business.

Employees should not use cellphones for personal business, unless for monitoring children, elderly or sick parents. Calls should be limited when involved in company activities. Much of an employee's use during company hours should be left to an honor system and not abused.

As driving and talking on cellphones proves to be a consistent cause of distracted driving and traffic accidents, tow drivers should be required to pull off the roadway away from traffic to conduct business conversations. Remember, if the ignition's on and you're on the cellphone ... well, you know the drill. Drivers who are cited for talking on cellphones or texting while driving are responsible for the outcome of the citation.

At-fault accidents generate point deductions where determined by the investigating officer on-scene or the DMV. Any accident caused by cellphone or texting use is considered an at-fault accident and chargeable to the driver's motor vehicle report point count. An at-fault accident can result in disciplinary action or dismissal if deemed not insurable by the company's insurance provider.

Using them for on-scene photos could be conisdered a violation of law enforcement contracts when not authorized.

Mechanics and forklift operators should not use cellphones while driving, loading or conducting off-loading activities. If it's necessary to talk with a supervisor or dispatcher related to recovery scenes or customer interractions, recovery actions should remain separate until conversations are completed.

A tow operator's on-scene responsibilities are too important to include cellphone conversation. Sure, cellphones are a necessary evil and I highly doubt that management can control their use 100 percent of the time. However, setting small yet reasonable guidelines and expectations should not be considered excessive.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, and is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame.
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