The NYPD Defends Its Accident Investigation Capabilities As Officials Work to Shift Authority to the D.O.T.
A news story on gothamist.com reports that the NYPD has come under fire for failing to solve deadly hit-and-run accidents despite given evidence. In one case, a woman was struck while riding her bicycle and sustained multiple bone fractures and a serious concussion. The driver fled the accident scene and left the victim to suffer and potentially died in the street. Fortunately, the woman recovered from her severe injuries at a hospital. The victim’s friends, family, and attorney were able to obtain security camera video footage of the collision. They also were able to track the vehicle to its owner and place of residence. Although the victim presented the evidence to the NYPD, the NYPD refused to even speak with the suspect. When the victim followed up and contacted the 83rd precinct for a case update, she was told that the detective handling her case had left for vacation. She states that no one has ever called her back. The victim told the City Council, the NYPD was absolutely no help. She stated that they would interview the driver if they had the time.
According to the news report, this is one of several other experiences that victims and the families of victims injured or killed in bicycle or pedestrian accidents have endured. The NYPD has been accused of being uninterested in helping and has been hostile to accident victims for a long time. These complaints helped motivate legislatures to create new legislation to transfer accident investigation authority from the NYPD to the Department of Transportation. The bill was introduced last month and had the support of Council Speaker Corey Johnson, which would create a new unit under the D.O.T. to handle interviewing eyewitnesses, issuing public statements, and reviewing the street design at the crash site of serious accidents.
However, the bill is opposed by the NYPD, the D.O.T., the Mayor’s Office, and all five of the New York city’s district attorneys. All argue that the NYPD must remain the “primary” lead in accident investigation. NYPD’s Chief of Legislative Affairs stated that the core of these processes includes law enforcement, and it is going too far by taking away the core law enforcement responsibilities from the NYPD.
According to the news story, advocates for “Safe Streets,” along with their allies in the City Council, have stated publicly that the NYPD is compromised and statistically has failed to investigate and close serious accident cases in New York City. In one example, the NYPD has only made arrests in fewer than 1% of a hit-and-run accident. The number is purportedly only a fraction of the results observed in other large city departments such as Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, fatal hit-and-runs arrests were made in approximately one-third of the cases.
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