New York City - Effort To Reduce Rising Rate of NYPD Car Crashes
New York City - It’s back to driving school for the NYPD, which has just laid out $225,000 for its first squad-car simulator in an effort to reduce the rising rate of cop-car crashes.
The Post first reported in August that patrol-car accidents among its 8,839-car fleet have surged by 11 percent over the past three years.
The NYPD hopes the $225,798, high-tech driving machine, to be installed at the Police Academy in three months, will steer cops to safety.
A recruit or cop will climb into the single-seat simulator, equipped with a steering wheel, gas pedal, brake and two-way radio, and confront 100 computer-generated scenarios on three high-definition video screens.
They will be challenged by high-speed chases, tricky turns in the snow, and rain-drenched windshields without risking lives or destroying patrol cars.
The number of NYPD vehicle-damage reports jumped from 4,014 in 2005 to 4,477 in 2007, the last year of available data, according to statistics obtained via a Freedom of Information Law request.
The increase moved department brass to seek new ways to reduce accidents, said Lawrence De Mayo, an executive with Binghamton-based Doron Precision Systems, which manufactures the simulator.
The company had been trying to persuade the NYPD to purchase one since the 1970s, he added.
The department currently uses the standard Emergency Vehicle Operators Course, which includes an obstacle course in Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, and classroom instruction. That training will continue.
Cops learn car-stopping techniques and policies on high-speed pursuits - such as when to engage a violent suspect racing away and the mandate that officers stop pursuit when the risk to the public outweighs the need to capture the criminal.
All NYPD cops must have a driver’s license, but many of the younger recruits, who rely mostly on buses and subways, are inexperienced drivers.
Recruits and veteran cops will use the simulator, said police spokesman Paul Browne.
The Philadelphia Police Department discovered that officers who had undergone similar simulation training got into 20 percent fewer cop-car crashes, De Mayo said.
Despite the increase in patrol-car accidents in New York City, there was a 45 percent decrease - from 42 in 2006 to 23 in 2007 - in the number of crash-related serious injuries to officers, according to the NYPD.
A specially designated police panel reviews each police-car mishap, similar to how shootings are examined.
The Manhattan South precinct, which covers the borough below 59th Street, traditionally has the highest concentration of vehicle accidents.
Cops under 30 are the most common culprits, historically accounting for more than half of crashes, reports show
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