NEW YORK — Four City Council members, including Speaker Corey Johnson, are sponsoring legislation that would transfer the responsibility for investigating motor vehicle crashes from the NYPD to the Department of Transportation.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has made motor vehicle car crashes a priority with his Vision Zero program to end all vehicular deaths.

What You Need To Know

  • The bill would create a unit at the Department of Transportation to investigate and analyze crashes

  • The NYPD has a Collision Investigation Squad (CIS) that looks into crashes leave people critically injured or killed

  • Police and transportation officials testified against the bill at a Council hearing on Wednesday

Still, his administration opposed the investigation transfer plan during a Council hearing Wednesday. 

"Taking over primary responsibility for investigating crashes and potentially staffing the unit with law enforcement personnel with comparable experience and training would be a massive, challenging undertaking for our agency that is outside of our expertise," said Margaret Forgione, the deputy transportation commissioner.

The move to transfer the unit from NYPD follows a push by the Council to shift other functions from the police department, like responsibility for school safety, following last year's Black Lives Matter protests.

But a police official said this proposal strikes at the heart of the NYPD's mission.

"Criminal investigations are the core functions of a police force," NYPD Transportation Bureau Chief Kim Royster said. "Our CIS investigators are experts in collision investigation and have years of experience and training."

In 2020, the NYPD's collision squad investigated 374 crashes, including 245 that involving a death. That's out of more than 44,000 crashes that resulted in an injury. The collision squad has 22 detectives, five sergeants, and a lieutenant, and is assisted by 15 technicians.

Supporters of the bill want more crash investigations, including those with non-life-threatening injuries.

"That's why we don't have trust. The person leading this unit is saying that 26 is enough. How can you see the face of those families?" said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the Transportation Committee.

"That seems like an awfully low number of investigations in a year," Councilman Stephen Levin said.

The mayor's office says it is in talks with the Council to find a solution that "doubles down on vision zero and addresses the concerns raised by NYPD, DOT and all of New York City's District Attorneys."


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