ISP Improves Crash Investigation & Safety Techniques

To help with traffic crash investigations, as well as identify best practices to keep officers safe, the Illinois State Police (ISP) participated in the Illinois Association of Technical Accident Investigators crash testing event on June 26-28, 2024. ​ The event took place at the Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, IL. ​ ISP officers from the Traffic Crash Reconstruction Unit, Crime Scene Services, Division of Patrol, and representatives from the ISP Forensic Laboratory joined law enforcement officers and crash scene investigators from other agencies for the three-day event. ​ Attendees witnessed live crash testing and participated in forensic mapping and digital evidence recovery. ​

“Opportunities for ISP to participate in events like this are instrumental to our continued success in crash scene reconstruction and digital evidence analysis,” said Director Brendan F. Kelly. ​ “Experiences gained in these controlled environments and this level of in-depth training deepens our understanding of crash scene intricacies and allow us to further develop crime solving techniques. ​ It also helps us determine the best practices to keep our troopers safe when they’re at a crash scene or on a traffic stop.”

A large focus of the testing was aimed at developing best practices for scene safety management as it pertains to the positioning of responding officer’s squad cars upon arrival to a scene. ​ ISP donated multiple older squad cars to the event to evaluate the forces the retired squads received during crash events. ​ This allowed personnel to evaluate how differences in vehicle placement at a scene could lower the amount of force incurred by the squads and how to minimize damage to the vehicle and potentially an officer inside. ​ High-tech, biomechanical crash test dummies were brought in to measure the force a human body would sustain while seated inside a squad car while being struck from behind. ​ The dummies were also tested standing on the side of vehicles, to replicate a trooper’s position while outside their vehicle on a traffic stop. ​ Analysis of this data will help ISP and other law enforcement agencies develop ever-evolving best safety practices and improve training for officers.

Officers also had the opportunity to practice and hone their skills of controlling an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), also known as drones. ​ ISP routinely uses UAS’s when responding to serious injury and fatal crashes to accurately map the scenes and document evidence.

Already in 2024, ISP has suffered 15 Move Over Law-related crashes with seven troopers injured. In 2023, ISP had 21 Move Over Law-related crashes with seven troopers injured, and suffered 25 crashes in 2022, leaving 13 troopers injured.

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