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February 27, 2013

Fatal crash taskforce wins top honor

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

A team made up of police officers from Troy, Auburn Hills and Bloomfield Township who investigate serious car crashes won top accolades from the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police recently.

The Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, the Office of Highway Safety Planning and AAA Michigan present Awards for Excellence in Traffic Safety to the best overall traffic safety programs in the state.

Officers who comprise the South Oakland County Crash Investigation Team have investigated serious and fatal car accidents in the three jurisdictions since the joint taskforce began in January 2011. 

The Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police awarded the taskforce the Award for Excellence in Traffic Safety, and the Troy City Council recognized the Troy police on the taskforce at a Feb. 18 meeting. In order to be considered for the award, law enforcement agencies must submit an application highlighting efforts and effectiveness of traffic safety programs. Winning agencies receive grant funds from the Office of Highway Safety Planning to purchase equipment and/or training. 

South Oakland County Crash Investigation Team was awarded $5,000.

“We have not decided what to spend it on yet,” said Troy police Capt. Bob Redmond.

He explained to the City Council that, before the taskforce began, police had to be called in for overtime to investigate the crashes. There are 97 sworn police officers in Troy, down from 135 in 2008.

Now, police on the taskforce in the three jurisdictions who are on shift are called to the other jurisdictions when needed, Redmond said. “Now they send us the people they have working.

“This speeds up the investigation and cuts down on the amount of time the roads are closed,” Redmond said. Also, the officers on the taskforce are highly trained in crash-scene investigation, he added.

For example, the South Oakland County Crash Investigation Team was called to investigate a fatal rollover crash on southbound I-75 at Wattles just after 4 p.m. Jan. 4, in which two lanes of the freeway were closed for three hours.

Redmond said that the use of officers already on duty has saved the city of Troy $12,000 last year.

Troy Police Chief Gary Mayer said the force “multiplier aspect” has benefitted the participating cities, especially with the loss of personnel that all three departments experienced over the last few years. “We’re doing a good job, but we’re not doing the same job as we did in the past,” Mayer said during a Feb. 4 study session with the City Council that focused on an overview of the Police Department as the council begins the budget process.

Troy police also consolidate with officers in other jurisdictions on the Special Investigations Unit, the Major Case Assistance Team and the Oakland County Tactical Training Consortium. Troy police provide dispatch and lockup services for the Clawson Police Department, for which Troy receives $200,000 a year.

“We have continued to provide quality service by still effectively, efficiently and professionally investigating serious and fatal accidents through this partnership,” Mayer.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.