Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department

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1 Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department SECTION NUMBER CHIEF OF POLICE EFFECTIVE REVIEW DATE 8 3 4/5/2013 6/1/2014 SUBJECT CRASH INVESTIGATIONS AND REPORTING GENERAL It is the policy of the VCUPD to investigate traffic crashes, to determine whether these crashes were caused by traffic violations, and in those cases, to prosecute these violations. Crashes are also investigated for the purpose of civil litigation. The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for department members when handling traffic crashes, crashes on public property, hit and run situations and traffic related injuries and fatalities. This policy also outlines investigative and reporting responsibilities regarding VCUPD vehicles and Commonwealth of Virginia state owned vehicles. Employees who drive police and/or stateowned vehicles are bound by VCU s Vehicle Accident Prevention and Safety Policy at all times. ACCOUNTABILITY STATEMENT All employees are expected to fully comply with the guidelines and timelines set forth in this written directive. Failure to comply will result in appropriate corrective action. Responsibility rests with the division commander to ensure that any violations of policy are investigated and appropriate training, counseling and/or disciplinary action is initiated. DEFINITIONS A. DEPARTMENT VEHICLE Any vehicle, including all owned, leased, rented or seized vehicle(s), currently utilized by the VCUPD. B. REPORTABLE CRASH Any crash which results in injury to or death of any person or total property damage to an apparent extent of $1,500 or more. A Police Crash Report (FR 300) shall be completed for all reportable crashes and is the official form that is submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). CRASH RESPONSE, INVESTIGATION AND REPORTING A. Officers shall respond to, investigate and report the following types of traffic crashes: 1. Crashes resulting in death or injury, whether on public or private property, 2. Hit and run crashes, whether on public or private property, 3. State vehicle crashes, whether on public or private property, 4. Crashes due to impairment caused by alcohol or drugs, whether on public or private property, VCUPD Written Directives Manual 8 3 Crash Investigations 1

2 5. Crashes involving hazardous material spills, whether on public or private property. B. Officers shall respond to the following types of traffic crashes. Investigating and reporting is dependent upon statutory limitations. 1. Crashes which create major traffic congestion, 2. Crashes involving mass transportation vehicles, 3. Crashes where damage to the vehicle(s) require towing, 4. Crashes involving disturbances between principals involved, and 5. All crashes on the public right of way including: a. Crashes occurring on public streets, sidewalks or unpaved city property including those caused by holes or other surface defects or underground utilities and/or b. Damage inflicted upon a privately owned building by the state. C. Private Property Crashes: The VCUPD will not respond to crashes involving property damage which occur on private property unless: 1. There is a dispute between the principals, 2. A hit and run crash has occurred, 3. A state vehicle is involved, 4. Alcohol and/or drug impairment is involved, and/or 5. Hazardous materials are involved. D. Non Reportable Crashes Under the Statutory Limit ( ): 1. When an officer responds to a traffic crash which results in property damage only and the total apparent damage is under $1,500, the officer shall clear the roadway, restore the normal flow of traffic and verify the drivers license, registration and insurance information for validity. 2. The officer shall briefly explain to the operator(s) that the Commonwealth of Virginia does not require a crash report when there are no injuries and the total property damage does not exceed $1,500. The officer shall assist the parties in the exchange of information required for insurance purposes by supplying a VCU Crash Form to each driver. 3. When a person involved in a crash is clearly at fault, he/she may be charged accordingly. E. Hit and Run Crash Investigation: 1. When a vehicle operator fails to stop and take account of the crash, the incident shall be investigated regardless of the amount of damage. In any incident whereby there is sufficient information to follow up, the officer shall continue the investigation until an VCUPD Written Directives Manual 8 3 Crash Investigations 2

3 arrest has been made or all leads have been exhausted. When the offender is not arrested and/or follow up is not possible, the case will be submitted to the Investigations Division for review. 2. Private Property Hit and Run is a criminal offense regardless of where it takes place. The officer shall complete an IBR on the property owner. The officer shall not be required to complete an FR 300 for crashes occurring on private property. 3. In a hit and run crash involving serious injury or fatality, a Traffic Division supervisor shall be notified immediately, and the RPD Crash Team shall be called out. 4. The following reports shall be compiled, when applicable: 1) IBR An IBR shall contain all pertinent information regarding the crash as well as a reasonable estimate of the damage. 2) FR 300 For Hit and Run Crashes with damage exceeding $1,500 or involving injury, the following shall occur: 1) The officer shall send the FR 300 to the Records Technician who shall update information as the investigation is completed. 2) The Hit and Run crash investigator shall update and file the FR 300 with the DMV based on the results of the investigation. 3) The investigating officer shall submit an IBR supplemental report detailing the final account of the report. 5. An officer making an arrest can assign him/herself as the crash investigator. His/her report shall include a diagram, dollar amount, extent of injuries, directions, car descriptions, witness description (type of car observed compared with DMV information) and telephone number. If the crash is reportable, the FR 300 shall be included. 6. Towing Vehicles involved in Hit and Run Crashes: 1) If the suspect s vehicle is needed as evidence, the officer shall have the vehicle towed for investigation. 2) If a car towed as a result of an officer s request is placed in the section Hold for Investigation Hit and Run of the tow lot, there must be an IBR on file. The officer shall indicate on the IBR when the vehicle is being held for investigation. NOTE: For additional information, refer to Written Directive 8 8 Vehicle Towing. F. Police Pursuits: 1. If a crash occurs during the course of a police pursuit involving one or more citizens vehicles, the RPD Crash Team shall be notified to respond and investigate the crash. 2. If a crash occurs during the course of a police pursuit involving one or more department vehicles, the Virginia State Police shall be notified to respond and investigate the crash. VCUPD Written Directives Manual 8 3 Crash Investigations 3

4 G. Major Crashes involving Extensive Property Damage and/or Injuries The responding officer shall immediately notify Dispatch who shall request response from the Virginia State Police to investigate the crash. H. Traffic Fatalities: 1. The responding officer shall immediately notify a supervisor who shall respond to the scene and determine whether RPD Crash Team assistance will be needed. 2. If assistance is requested from the RPD Crash Team, the scene shall be turned over to the investigating Crash Team officer. 3. If a member of the VCU community is involved in the crash, VCUPD shall complete an administrative report. I. Injury Determination: For crash reporting purposes, an injury is classified as one of the following: 1. Deceased before the report was made, 2. Visible signs of injury (bleeding wounds or distorted members), 3. Less serious visible injuries, (bruises, abrasions, swelling, limping, etc.), 4. No visible injury but complaint of pain or momentary unconsciousness, or, 5. No injury. J. Traffic Crash Investigation Responsibilities: 1. The first officer on the scene shall: a. Protect the scene in order to prevent further damage and/or injury, b. Identify any injured parties and begin first aid procedures if necessary, c. Call for emergency medical services personnel and equipment as needed, d. If fire or hazardous materials are involved: 1) Approach the incident from upwind, if possible, 2) Stay clear of all spills, vapors, fumes and smoke, 3) Protect the incident scene, 4) Do not assume that odorless gases or vapors are harmless, and, 5) Request Fire Department response. e. Control vehicular and pedestrian movements in the vicinity of the crash, as needed. This task may require: 1) Requesting additional personnel, 2) Re routing traffic by manually placing flares, cones or other traffic controlling devices, and VCUPD Written Directives Manual 8 3 Crash Investigations 4

5 3) Assuming manual control of traffic signals. NOTE: For additional information, refer to Written Directive 8 6 Traffic Direction and Control. f. Consult with a supervisor to determine the need for RPD Crash Team call out, g. Secure and maintain the crash scene for investigative purposes, and h. Remain in charge until relieved by the investigating officer, a supervisor or Fire Department personnel (when applicable). 2. Investigating Officer: When a property damage or non serious injury crash occurs, the investigating officer shall: a. Interview principals and witnesses, b. Examine and record vehicle damage, c. Examine and record the effects of the crash on the roadway, d. Collect and preserve evidence as needed, e. Take photographs and measurements as needed, f. Complete the appropriate follow up activities to include: 1) Collect off scene data, 2) Obtain and record formal witness statements, 3) Prepare formal reports to support any charges placed, 4) Reconstruct the crash (if needed), and 5) Safeguard the personal property of crash victims and whenever necessary, secure property according to Written Directive 3 5 Property Management. g. Facilitate the exchange of information between principals, and h. Complete and submit the traffic crash report prior to the end of the officer s tour of duty. Exceptions may be made by the investigator s supervisor, whenever necessary. DOCUMENTATION COMPLETION, DISTRIBUTION AND RESPONSIBILITY A. FR 300 Completion: 1. All reportable crashes investigated by department members shall be reported on the standard FR 300 Police Crash Report provided by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. 2. The Police Officers Instruction Manual for Completing Police Crash Reports shall be utilized as a guide for completing the FR 300. VCUPD Written Directives Manual 8 3 Crash Investigations 5

6 3. Officers shall use the VCUPD Crash Form to assist vehicle operators in exchanging information. 4. For reportable vehicle crashes that do not involve death or injury, hit and run when injury is involved, DUI/DUID, or damage to state vehicle/state property, the officer shall complete only the FR 300. The requesting officer shall request a CAD number that shall be utilized to identify the report. This report number will begin with a V prior to the incident number. NOTE: All FR 300 forms shall be completed electronically. B. FR 300 Distribution: 1. The FR 300 shall be submitted to the officer s supervisor prior to the end of the officer s tour of duty, unless an extension is requested and granted. 2. The officer s immediate supervisor shall review the FR 300 and ensure its completeness and accuracy before signing the report as the Reviewing Officer. 3. The original FR 300 shall be forwarded directly to DMV with a copy submitted to the Records Technician, in compliance with the Library of Virginia Records Retention Schedule. 4. The investigating officer shall maintain a copy for their records. C. Responsibilities Pertaining to the FR 300: 1. If the FR 300 contains errors it will be returned to the investigating officer by the investigating officer s supervisor for correction. 2. Reports shall be corrected by the investigating officer and returned to the patrol supervisor on the same day that they are received by the investigating officer. 3. Field Training Officers are responsible for and shall sign all reports prepared by officers in field training. D. State Form FR422A Confirmation of Liability Insurance: 1. Form FR422A may be compiled whenever an officer believes that a person involved in a crash does not have valid motor vehicle insurance. 2. Issuing officers may complete the information on the left half of the form and have the individual sign where required. The original shall be given to the operator of the vehicle and the blue copy forwarded to the Department of Motor Vehicles. E. Department Vehicle Crashes: 1. Whenever a department member is involved in a crash while operating a department vehicle, a supervisor of the next highest rank shall be notified. 2. If necessary, proper emergency equipment should be requested. The vehicles shall not be moved unless authorized by the supervisor or unless the investigating officer concludes that it is necessary. VCUPD Written Directives Manual 8 3 Crash Investigations 6

7 3. Once the crash is assessed, the investigating supervisor shall make notification through the chain of command. 4. The supervisor shall assign an officer to investigate the crash. 5. The investigating officer shall ensure that the damaged department vehicle is taken to VCU Vehicle Maintenance for a damage estimate as soon as practical after the crash; regardless of the amount of damage. 6. Whenever an officer sustains an injury in a department vehicle crash, the supervisor shall prepare the Employer s Accident Report Form (VWC Form No. 3) and a Supervisor's Investigation Report. Should the crash involve serious injury to an officer or other individual(s), the Risk Management Office shall also be notified. 7. Anytime that a department vehicle operator claims mechanical failure of the department vehicle, the investigating officer shall ensure that the vehicle has not been restarted or moved by anyone on scene and the vehicle will be immediately towed to VCU Vehicle Maintenance to be inspected. 8. Significant department vehicle crashes and/or crashes involving conflicting witness statements shall not be moved or restarted until retrieval of black box data is complete. 9. The investigating officer shall complete a SP 209 State Vehicle Crash Report and IBR, regardless of whether the crash is Reportable or Non reportable. 10. The operator of the department vehicle involved shall complete the Automobile Loss Notice/Accident Report and the investigating supervisor shall review it. The supervisor shall forward the Vehicle Crash Report Package, a copy of the FR 300 and copies of all related documentation to Division of Risk Management immediately upon completion. 11. The investigating officer s supervisor shall also compile a VCUPD 22 Supervisory Investigation Department Vehicle Accident. In this report, the supervisor shall make a recommendation as to whether the crash is IN POLICY or OUT OF POLICY according to VCUPD policies, regulations and VA State Code. NOTE: Officer involved in department vehicle crashes are bound by the procedures set forth in VCU s Vehicle Accident Prevention and Safety Policy. 12. Distribution of Forms: a. After the supervisor has reviewed and approved the FR 300, the original will be forwarded to the DMV with a copy sent to the Records Technician for all crashes which are reportable to the state. One copy shall be forwarded to the department s Fleet Manager along with pictures of the crash. b. When a supervisor investigates a crash in which a police officer is involved that occurred in the performance of the officer s duties, the supervisor shall compile a DMV Notification of Police Officer Accident (one copy), attach it to the original DMV copy of the FR 300 and forward it to the Records Technician. VCUPD Written Directives Manual 8 3 Crash Investigations 7

8 c. The investigating supervisor shall place the completed forms into three packets. The forms shall be collated in the following order: 1) Automobile Loss Notice/Accident Report, 2) VCUPD 22 Supervisory Investigation Department Vehicle Accident, 3) FR 300, 4) Pictures, and 5) Related Reports. d. The investigating supervisor shall forward, through channels, one copy to the division captain and the original to the Division of Risk Management. F. Non Department State Vehicle Crashes (including state rented vehicles): 1. Whether on public or private property, the officer shall complete the SP 209 and all related crash forms applicable to the incident. 2. The investigating officer shall ensure that the state vehicle operator s supervisor is notified and requested to respond, if possible. 3. Officers shall remind the operators of the state vehicle(s) involved that they are bound by the procedures set forth in VCU s Vehicle Accident Prevention and Safety Policy, including, but not limited to, notifying their department about the incident. G. Notification in Certain Instances: 1. The Division of Risk Management shall be immediately notified when any vehicle owned or utilized by the state and operated by a state employee is involved in a crash where there is a fatality, serious injury, extensive property damage or of an unusually serious nature (such as multiple injuries, multiple vehicles involved, or where it is apparent that the university will be involved in litigation). 2. When, in the opinion of the investigating officer, the operator of a vehicle owned or utilized by the state involved in a crash is suspected of operating the vehicle under the influence of intoxicants or is suspected of gross negligence, the officer shall notify his/her supervisor. H. Crashes Involving Sworn Police Department Employees in their Personally Owned Vehicle (POV): 1. Whenever a sworn employee of the department is involved in a crash whereby he/she is cited due to their involvement and/or the crash is considered reportable, the employee shall immediately notify the on duty supervisor. 2. The on duty supervisor shall determine the best course of action based on the circumstances of the incident. PLACEMENT OF CHARGES AND WITNESS SUMMONSES A. When there is probable cause to believe that any operator involved in a reportable crash VCUPD Written Directives Manual 8 3 Crash Investigations 8

9 committed a violation of the law, the investigating officer shall place the appropriate charges against the operator. B. If a non fatal crash occurs on private property, the only applicable charges are Reckless Driving, DUI/DUID and/or Hit and Run. C. The summonsing of witnesses for crashes shall be in accordance with provisions outlined in Written Directive 6 17 Virginia Uniform Summons. D. Jurisdiction of Arrest: 1. If a crash results in a traffic arrest and a criminal charge, both violations shall be set for Traffic Court. If a crash does not result in a traffic arrest and a traffic related criminal charge is placed, the criminal violation shall be set for Traffic Court. 2. At the time an operator is charged with a violation, the officer shall provide the operator(s) with the following information: a. Details regarding the specific charge, b. Scheduled court appearance date and time, c. Whether court appearance is optional or mandatory, d. Whether a plea can be entered and/or a fine paid, and e. Any other applicable information regarding the crash and/or charges. E. Vehicle Dispositions: 1. Victim s Vehicle If the victim s vehicle is immobilized as a result of the crash and is a traffic hazard, the officer shall ask the owner for a towing company preference. If there is no driver preference, the department s non preference towing service will be called. NOTE: If the immobilized vehicle presents a potential traffic hazard or the vehicle operator s towing service does not respond in a timely fashion, the department s nonpreference towing service will be called. 2. Suspect s Vehicle If a suspect vehicle is located, it shall be handled in accordance with Written Directive 8 8 Vehicle Towing. F. Property: 1. Every effort shall be made to secure the victim s property. Items of value that cannot be returned to the victim shall be properly secured and notification to the victims shall be provided information regarding the procedure for retrieval of their personal property. 2. Uninjured crash victims shall maintain control of their own property. 3. Any property found with a vehicle that belongs to a criminal suspect or that may be potentially used in a criminal case shall be entered as evidence at the Property and Evidence Unit. VCUPD Written Directives Manual 8 3 Crash Investigations 9

10 ACCIDENT SCENE INJURIES AND HAZARD SITUATIONS A. The officer assigned shall proceed as rapidly and as safely as possible to the accident scene. B. The police vehicles at the scene shall not be parked in a manner that will endanger other pedestrians or motorists. The officer should consider using the police vehicle as a shield to protect the scene as well as him or her. The officer shall leave his/her vehicle emergency lights on. C. During periods of reduced visibility or darkness, the officer shall put on reflective safety vest before leaving the vehicle. Flares should be used to create an illuminated warning pattern. Officers shall use due care in the operation of flares. D. In case of danger of fire from leaking or ruptured gas tanks or where there is a sign of hazardous materials, the fire department shall be requested to respond. E. When hazardous materials are involved, the fire department representative shall assume control of the scene and all officers will provide support as required. Any investigation of the accident will occur after approval by the fire department representative. TRAINING VCUPD EVOT instructors shall provide behind the wheel training to drivers of passenger vans for departments requesting such training. Documentation of completed training shall be forwarded to the employee/student s assigned department and the Insurance and Risk Management Office. TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT Equipment to be carried in patrol vehicles to facilitate the investigation of traffic accidents shall include: A. First aid kit B. Two blankets in suitable container C. Fire extinguisher D. Supply of flares (minimum of 12) E. Mask and gown F. CPR mask CRASH REVIEW AND CONSEQUENCES All crashes involving VCU vehicles will trigger a review by the VCU Accident Review Committee. If the Accident Review Committee determines that the crash was preventable, the committee will provide a written report of the findings to the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer as well as the driver s department head, which will include the results of the driver s most recent Restricted Motor Vehicle Report (MVR). The department head will consult with HR Employee Relations and advise the driver of the findings and of any action that will be taken with respect to their driving privileges, which may include the following: VCUPD Written Directives Manual 8 3 Crash Investigations 10

11 A. Personal responsibility for the first $100 of the cost of repairs to the VCU vehicle. B. In addition, if damage to the VCU vehicle exceeds $1,000, damage to a non VCU vehicle exceeds $500, or the preventable accident causes injury: 1. The employee s driving privileges will be suspended for a period of 30 days, during which time he or she will successfully complete a remedial defensive driving course at the department s expense. If a student driver has a preventable accident that meets any of the above criteria, his or her driving privileges will be revoked permanently. 2. If an employee driver has a second preventable accident within a six month period that results in damage to the VCU vehicle in excess of $1,000, damage to a non VCU vehicle in excess of $500, or the preventable accident causes injury, the employee s driving privileges will be suspended and he or she will be subject to the actions as set forth for a MVR (employees shall refer to the VCU Accident Prevention and Safety Policy for a detailed description of MVR Review). NOTE: Discipline could also include appropriate action under the Commonwealth of Virginia Standards of Conduct policy or other university policies, as applicable. Employees shall refer to the VCU Accident Prevention and Safety Policy for further information regarding employee crash related review and discipline. FORMS A. FR 300, Police Crash Report Form B. SP 209 State Vehicle Crash Report C. FR422A Confirmation of Liability Insurance Form D. DMV Notification of Police Officer Crash E. VCUPD Crash Form F. Automobile Loss Notice/Accident Report G. VCUPD 22 Supervisory Investigation Police Vehicle Accident H. VCUPD 61 Accident Report of Workers Compensation Claim I. VCUPD 62 Physician Selection for Occupational Injuries/Diseases J. IBR VCUPD Written Directives Manual 8 3 Crash Investigations 11

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