In a policy shift, the NYPD has begun conducting investigations of traffic crashes that result in critical injuries but not certain or likely death, reports the New York Times. In the past, investigators from a specialized unit, the Accident Investigation Squad, were sent only when at least one victim had died or was deemed by first responders to be “likely to die.” The new policy, which began last fall, came in response to City Council criticism of the department's response to crashes.
And in a symbolic semantic change that some advocates for crash victims have long requested, the department will begin using the term “collision” instead of “accident” to describe crashes, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. The squad itself will soon be renamed the Collision Investigation Squad. “In the past, the term 'accident' has sometimes given the inaccurate impression or connotation that there is no fault or liability associated with a specific event,” Kelly wrote to council members.