The Jackson County Sheriff's Department Traffic Unit is responsible for traffic enforcement within the 720 square miles of Jackson County. The Unit's members perform selective traffic enforcement and accident investigation during peak traffic flow periods of the day. The Unit members are also responsible to thoroughly investigate and reconstructs all fatal accidents that occur in County of Jackson. Traffic Unit members often work in concert with the Michigan Department of State Police Traffic Crash Reconstruction Specialists when the incident is of an unusual nature or requires additional investigative resources. The primary focus of the Traffic Unit is traffic education and enforcement. Similar to many of the other units of the Department, the Traffic Unit subscribes to the theory of compliance through education.
The Unit's members are selected for assignment from the Road Patrol Division. Due to the nature of the assignment, only those members with a history of aggressive traffic enforcement and self motivation are considered for the Unit. Each member receives extensive and continual training in following courses of study; Laser and moving traffic radar operation, alcohol enforcement techniques, air support traffic enforcement, accident reconstruction and investigation, passive and active restraint device education, and classroom training techniques for educating children in the area schools.
SPEED, is one of the leading causes of fatal accidents in Jackson County!
Jackson County roadways share one of the largest volumes of traffic in the State of Michigan. The County is criss-crossed by primary and secondary roadways. I-94 and quartered by US 127 North and South. M-60, M-50 North and South, M-99, M-124, M-106 and M-52 provide extensive secondary roadway traffic. There is a great volume of rural and residential roadway traffic. All of these roadways require innovative enforcement and monitoring efforts by area law enforcement agencies. One of the most innovative is the J.U.M.P. Program, Jackson Unified Monitoring Program, utilizes law enforcement resources from the Jackson City Police Department, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, the Michigan Department of State Police, and the Township Police Departments in Jackson County. This innovative efforts utilizes groups of six to eight patrol units to concentrate efforts in areas identified for high speed and traffic accident locations. Often, as many as two hundred motorists are cited and hundreds of motorists receive educational warnings. Targeting speed and restraint device usage, this program has been one of the most successful efforts to reduce serious injury and fatal accidents.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Department carries the traffic enforcement effort further by equipping every marked and semi-marked patrol unit with some type of traffic radar device. The units are either equipped with moving traffic radar units, LASER unmounted radar units and now we have equipped our traffic units with the new Decatur GENESIS II moving traffic radar unit. This impressive new radar operates in stationary, opposite direction moving, same direction moving, and fastest target tracking modes. Its advanced Digital Signal Processing (DSP) means you can lock-onto and lock-in a speeding motorist in the blink of an eye.
Reconstruction has been a part of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department since the 1978. The primary purpose is to determine how a collision occurred using the physical facts, witness statements and evidence available at the crash scene. Prevention, Prosecution and Education are three of the several reasons why a detailed investigation of a traffic crash needs to be conducted. Prevention, to reduce the possibility of future traffic incidents. Prosecution, to hold the driver accountable for those violations in a criminal court. Education, to educate drivers and dovetail the preventative enforcement measures already in place.
Traffic accident reconstruction is the effort to determine, from whatever information is available, how the accident occurred. Describing the events of the accident, in more or less detail, is the aim. Accident reconstruction is not so much a matter of collecting information about an accident as it is of thinking about information that has been collected. The reconstructionist essentially interprets data already gathered in lower levels of investigation. Traffic accident reconstructionists must have special experience that gives them the skill to find undetected facts in available information to deduce from these facts the circumstances that will prove or disprove a theory of how the accident happened.
All members of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department Traffic Unit receive extensive training in accident investigation and reconstruction. This training involves hundreds of hours to become a skilled traffic accident investigator. This training provides in-depth coverage to systematically investigate a traffic accident, including the ability to recognize critical evidence at the scene, and to preserve and record it promptly. Techniques for recognizing and properly recording the accident results on roadways and vehicles. Data collected at the accident scene is useful only if properly interpreted and analyzed, and sufficient to explain events relating to the accident.
All fatal and serious motor vehicle crashes require that comprehensive and complete investigations be completed to determine how the crash occurred. Scale diagrams of the crash scene must be prepared to record final rest positions of vehicles, roadway characteristics, and items considered potential evidence identifying the cause of the crash. One of the major time-consuming tasks in the investigation and processing of a serious crash scene is the measurement and recording of data from the crash scene to prepare a scale diagram. Currently, crash scene measurements are taken using physical measuring devices, such as 100-foot fiberglass tapes, LASAR radar measuring devices and measurement wheels.
These measuring devices are often difficult to work with due to wind and other weather conditions and require repetitive time-consuming actions that place the investigating officers within and around traffic lanes while measurements are being recorded. In some cases, to expedite traffic delays, vehicles pass through the area of the crash at the time measurements are taken with the officer near the traffic flow. By reducing the time expended "on-scene" locating and recording these measurements, there will be an associated reduction in total traffic delays, secondary crashes, and fewer officer and citizen injuries. In the near future Jackson County Sheriff's Department members will be trained and equipped with the Forensic Mapping System.
The Forensic Mapping System (FMS) consists of a total station, data collector, map software, Computer Aided Drawing (CAD) software, and a laptop computer. FMS uses electronic total station measuring devices (the same devices used by surveyors) to take measurements electronically, record the data automatically, and store it in the data collector. The data collected is then downloaded to the laptop computer into the map software where the data points are plotted by code, which is entered for each data point by the operator. The nearly complete drawing is then downloaded into the CAD software and the drawing is completed. Once the drawing is completed, analysis of the crash can begin. The total station is a combination of an Electronic Distance Measuring Instrument (EDMI) and a theodolite (a surveying instrument used to measure horizontal and vertical angles). The total station can be set up off the roadway. Evidence is located by an investigator holding a pole with a prism over a location of evidence. The instrument is focused on the prism and the operator takes a "shot" by pressing a button on the data collector. An infrared beam is emitted at the prism and is reflected back to the instrument. The operator then enters a code for the specific "shot," the investigator with the pole moves to another evidence location, and the process continues. The data collector records the distance, angle, and elevation for each "shot."
We have developed innovative measures to increase the effectiveness of the Alcohol Enforcement effort. Our selective enforcement teams target areas identified as high alcohol related accident areas. Our Alcohol Decoy program is an innovative concept that combines education and enforcement. The program uses area college criminal justice majors under the age of twenty one (21) to purchase alcohol at area stores and bars. If the decoy is successful, the business and employee is cited. If the decoy is unsuccessful, team members immediately contact the employee and business owner and notify of there attempt and successful enforcement of store policy to verify identification of purchasers. Periodically the enforcement efforts are published in the local newspapers. Increased patrol and decoy hours occur during holidays and school vacation periods which have been identified and high traffic fatality periods.
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