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Specialized NY police squad investigates traffic deaths

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Twenty-four New York police officers are given the job of investigating the city’s serious traffic crashes. The first thing the officers need to determine at any roped-off crash scene is whether a crime has actually taken place.

These fatal car crashes cover a wide-ranging spectrum of class, wealth and neighborhood. The accidents are unlike violent crime, which affects certain parts of the city more than others. When a crash occurs, and a paramedic lists a patient as critical, the Collision Investigation Squad detectives respond.

The detectives examine these crashes, focusing attention and resources on a specific kind of violent death in the streets — the victims who are walking, riding bicycles or in a vehicle. TheHighway Patrol division oversees this collision squad which quickly converges on a motor vehicle accident.

The multitude of people riding on Citi Bikes has only increased the need for detectives to be trained in analyzing complex crash scenes. Additionally, the collision squad has been reinforced with more detectives, state-of-the-art mapping tools and authorization to investigate roughly three times as many crashes this year as the year before.

Once the job of two police officers armed with a tape measure, a pencil, and a clipboard, a crash scene today only requires a single detective. The officer maps the outline of the scene, the shape of the debris field and any blood stains. The officer also carries a computerized wand, topped by a geodetic orange prism, that sends information back to a computerized device. The data are used to create a more precise map that can help recreate the crash.

Those who are legally responsible for a person’s death can be held accountable in a court of law by the surviving family through a wrongful death suit. To determine the negligence of another, it is very important investigators immediately locate witnesses and obtain statements. A legal professional should coordinate a detailed investigation into the accident and then recommend the best course of legal action to take.

Source: 
The New York Times, “Police Unit Taking Closer Look at Deadly Crashes” J. David Goodman, Jun. 23, 2013

By: Andrew Levine

Andrew J. Levine is co-owner at Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, P.C. in New York, NY. A graduate of Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. For 15 years he has been widely trusted and respected as a formidable attorney but acknowledged as a reasonable and ethical collaborator who impresses clients, judges and jurors alike. Andrew has been featured in New York Magazine as one of New York’s “Top Personal Injury Litigators” and recognized by Super Lawyers as a “Top Rated Personal Injury Attorney in New York.” View all posts by Andrew Levine

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