The Crash Investigation Unit for the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office consists of a group of highly trained officers that document and investigate the scene of serious and fatal motor vehicle accidents within and outside of Dutchess County.
The significance of the evidence documented at the scene through photographs, forensic mapping is usually the crucial element in the prosecution of a criminal or civil case involving wrongful death or serious physical injury. The focus in these extensive investigations is to prove or disprove negligence or recklessness of persons involved through speed analysis, mechanical inspections, vehicle interior examinations and occupant kinematics studies. Many of these cases largely consist of trace evidence, hair, blood, pattern prints and exchange of substances during impact. Processing of DNA is an integral part of the processing of interior components, especially when proving the identity of the driver is essential.
The Crash Investigation Team provides educational seminars for Fire Departments, Police Departments and vehicle recovery agents. The seminar provides the first responder with an introduction to major accident scene investigation starting from the crime scene through the investigative process and the building of a criminal case. The student reviews several crash scene focusing roadway evidence and debris. Items of interest from the obvious, such as tire marks and vehicle damage, to remote fragile articles such as fractured glass, paint chips and fibers are discussed in detail with the importance of preservation of the this evidence stressed. Students are given introductory knowledge of how each piece of the crash scene in and out of the vehicle play an important part role in determining causation and potentially the most important part for criminal investigation and successful prosecution. These introductory seminars have proven effective in changing the attitude of the first responder by making them aware of their vital role in the preservation of evidence.