NYPD Changes Policy, Increases Traffic Crash Investigations

In a letter to the City Council, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly outlined changes to the police department's crash scene investigation protocol. In his letter, dated March 4th, Commissioner Kelly explains that the City is expanding the criteria it uses to determine whether to dispatch its special investigative unit to the scene of a traffic crash.

Under the previous policy, the police department's Accident Investigation Squad (AIS) responded only when a victim died or was expected to die as a result of the crash. Even under these narrow criteria, the 21-person AIS was considered by safety advocates to be understaffed and often ineffective at gathering important crash information.

Moreover, critics argued that the AIS should investigate a greater number of serious but non-fatal crashes as well. For example, because the victims survived, crashes resulting in amputation/limb loss were not covered under the AIS mandate. The AIS was not dispatched in those cases, meaning that only an ordinary traffic accident report was generated. Prosecutors and personal injury attorneys did not have the benefit of a more detailed AIS report.

The police department's new policy will result in several changes. The first change will be one of terminology. Crashes will no longer be referred to as "accidents." Many people believe this term denotes a chance occurrence or mishap, and does not reflect the seriousness of most automobile crashes. Instead, the department will begin using the term "collisions." Thus, effective immediately, the AIS will be renamed the Collision Investigation Squad or CIS.

NYPD's new policy will also increase the number of crashes to which CIS will respond. Instead of only being dispatched to crashes where death has or is expected to occur, CIS will also investigate crashes where a victim received CPR, suffered respiratory arrest, or required and received life sustaining ventilator/circulatory support.

Under these new guidelines, CIS reports will be available for a greater number of less serious car crashes. For example, a higher number of intersection accidents will be investigated by CIS, as well as crashes resulting from failures to stop or yield. The more detailed data gathered by CIS, together with the ordinary traffic report already being done by the police in these cases, will provide important insight into why a crash occurred and who is responsible.

If you have been injured in a car crash in New York City, the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel can gather police reports and other important evidence on your behalf. Only this way can you assured of the maximum recovery for your injuries sustained the accident. Contact us at (800) 734-9338 or (212) 385-1122 today for a consultation.

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