Collision Reconstruction Unit
In 2009, the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office created the “Collision Reconstruction Unit” (CRU). This unit is comprised of highly experienced patrol Deputies who have demonstrated an interest in traffic safety and have become certified as a “Collision Reconstructionist” or an “Advanced Collision Investigator” (ACI). CRU members are Road Patrol Deputies, who when needed are responsible for investigating serious and/or fatal motor vehicle collisions. CRU Deputies are also sometimes requested to assist the Criminal Investigations Division or law enforcement agencies from surrounding jurisdictions during crime scene documentation with forensic 3D mapping technologies.
There are several steps a Deputy must successfully complete in order to become a “Collision Reconstructionist”. The first level of training is a 40-hour block of “Basic Crash” instruction which is completed while they attend the Police Academy. Once a Deputy has gained experience after the Academy they can request to attend the second level of training to become an “ACI”. Upon completion of the 80-hour “Advanced” course, the Deputy must complete the third level of training, which is another 80-hour course titled, “The Science of Collision Reconstruction”. Upon completion the Deputy is certified as a “Collision Reconstructionist”, but the Deputy is still encouraged to continue their training. Additional classes that most “Reconstructionists” will attend are: Motorcycle Reconstruction, Pedestrian Collision Investigation, Crush Energy Analysis, Commercial Motor Vehicle Collision Reconstruction, Crash Data Retrieval Analysis, Biomechanics, Human Kinetics, Special Problems, CAD and Total Station training, and Advanced Photography.
Currently, the CRU is comprised of one "Reconstructionist" and three "ACI's". There is also one additional "Reconstructionist" who is assigned to CID and assists the CRU as needed. When a CRU Deputy responds to a crash scene, the investigation begins by obtaining statements, taking photographs, analyzing roadway and vehicle evidence, and measuring the scene with specialized equipment. Some of the equipment the CRU uses is a TOPCON Total Station, a FARO 3D Laser scanner, and an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone), which are all used to create scaled diagrams of collision/crime scene. Once, all the necessary data is collected from the scene the CRU Deputy will spend many hours completing a report. In order to ensure that an accurate report is generated, the CRU Deputy must remain impartial and rely on physical evidence to make a determination of who is at fault for the collision. The final report is then presented to the Wicomico County State’s Attorney for review to determine if charges will be filed. Sometimes those charges could be as serious as vehicular manslaughter or homicide by a vehicle.