What is the Vehicular Crimes Unit?
Each of the Colorado State Patrol's five field districts has a Vehicular Crimes Unit (VCU) Team to conduct high-level technical investigations of automobile crashes. These team members have the specialized skills, training, and equipment necessary to investigate and reconstruct serious crashes, and these members are considered experts in their field. The Vehicular Crimes Unit is part of the Criminal Investigations Branch of the Colorado State Patrol.
Each VCU member must be a Level IV Reconstructionist and sit for the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR). VCU members are skilled in utilizing computer technology to create scale maps of crash scenes and utilize physics to explain what happened. At crash scenes, VCU members use a combination of drones and GPS data gathering equipment to gather the evidence for creating scale diagrams. Other equipment is used to measure the friction of the roadway, slopes and to interpret/measure evidential facts for their reconstructions.
After the vehicles are removed from the scene, the vehicles are examined to determine if a mechanical failure contributed to the crash. Systems such as brakes, steering and the tires are all examined. The damage to vehicles is also measured.
The data gathered is interpreted, analyzed and calculated to determine factors such as speed and visibility over time and distance. Sometimes, VCU is required to determine who was driving, based on trajectory and trace evidence left behind in a vehicle. VCU members are responsible for most crashes involving fatalities and felony charges. The members of VCU are also called upon to assist other agencies in the investigation of serious crashes, shootings, or other crimes.