It’s an ominous sign for drivers in on their daily commute. A police tape flutters by the scene where the EPS Major Collision Investigation Section (MCIS) is responding to a car versus bicycle incident. If the so-called “Crash Truck” is on the scene, something bad has happened.
“The major collisions unit investigates all fatal collisions as well as serious injury and service vehicle collisions,” said Sgt Travis Cruise.
This section doesn’t usually show up for minor fender benders according to Constable Sasa Novakovic.
“Every once in a while you get surprised just how violent these events can be…because it is gruesome.“
Members of MCIS say the nature of crashes they investigate are complex. They respond to hundreds every year including fatalities. Those investigations can take anywhere from two months to a year to complete said Sgt Cruise.
“With a fatal, it's all hands-on board. We bring out every tool that we have to assist with the investigation.” In this case, the cyclist suffered non-life-threatening injuries. MCIS is still investigating the cause of the collision.
“TECHNOLOGY HAS COMPLETEY CHANGED THE ENTIRE INVESTIGATIONS”
Members of the section rely on math and physics to analyze a crash scene. And they take full advantage of the technical tools at their disposal. On this day, a drone circles overhead, surveying the accident. Matching visual evidence with laser technology.
“Now we have a system where we have a 3D laser scanner, which within seconds shoots out millions of points, and we can have a 3D map generated,” added Sgt Cruise.
The laser scanner is a coveted tool for MCIS. What would have taken roughly five hours to survey in the past now takes about sixty minutes.
“EVERYTHING IS CAPTURED. NOTHING IS MISSED”
The high-tech system allows members to revisit the scene at any time in the future. It basically simulates the real world on a computer in three dimensions. The drone and laser scanner have been called a game changer.
It creates “an accurate representation of the scene, the entire scene, which then is, measurable with the accuracy of half a centimetre,” said Constable Novakovic.
“IT’S VERY HARD FOR PEOPLE TO TALK WITH FAMILIES THAT ARE GRIEVING”
MCIS does not depend solely on technology. There is a human element to the job that comes in play and cannot be overlooked. It is perhaps the most challenging part of the job.
“It's very hard for people to talk with families that are grieving, but I think it's a fantastic opportunity for EPS to really shine as far as being a caring body that can help them through the process,” said Sgt Cruise.