Contrary to Ray Kelly, NYPD Doesn’t Investigate Serious Traffic Injuries

One day after Jacob Stevens filed suit against the NYPD for failing to properly investigate the crash that killed his wife, Clara Heyworth, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters that the department’s Accident Investigation Squad handles all crashes that result in serious injury. The claim does not withstand the slightest scrutiny.

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Here’s what Kelly said at a presser yesterday, according to Transportation Nation:

Q: Do you want to respond to transportation advocates who are questioning whether the department investigates deaths (and) injuries of bicyclists who are not likely to die?

Kelly: What is the question? I’m not..what is the question? 

Q:  The transportation advocates are saying the department doesn’t investigate deaths…(Kelly: deaths?) involving bicyclists unless the bicyclists are likely to die. Is that something that you –

Kelly: We have a policy for accidents. We don’t have a different policy for bike accidents or accidents involving bicycles. We have — if people are seriously injured, our accident investigation squad does an investigation.

As NYPD Deputy Chief John Cassidy testified at a February City Council hearing, however, the Accident Investigation Squad does not handle crashes “if people are seriously injured.” They only handle cases where the victim is deemed “likely to die.” This protocol, which often rests on hasty medical evaluations made immediately after the crash, is the reason NYPD lets some traffic deaths go un-investigated until evidence has been lost or destroyed, as was the case with Heyworth and Stefanos Tsigrimanis.

Kelly’s remarks are, in fact, incredibly misleading. Contrary to the commissioner’s claim, each year thousands of traffic crashes resulting in serious injury do not get investigated by the AIS.

Last year, AIS investigated only 304 traffic crashes, according to the Times.

Meanwhile, according to records compiled by the State Department of Motor Vehicles [PDF] — culled in large part from NYPD crash reports — 3,138 crashes in New York City caused serious injuries in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available. An additional 261 resulted in deaths, for a total of 3,399 traffic crashes that supposedly met the standard for AIS investigation, according to Ray Kelly.

Without the 2011 crash numbers, we can’t say precisely how many serious traffic injuries do not result in an AIS investigation, but based on this recent data, AIS looks at about 300 traffic crashes each year while ignoring 3,000 other crashes that cause serious injury or death. And even when AIS does conduct an investigation, police have been known to overlook or discard key evidence that indicates motorist culpability.

It gets worse. It’s not like precinct cops are picking up the slack for trained crash investigators. NYPD protocol explicitly bans precinct officers from issuing citations for careless driving that injures pedestrians or cyclists, unless the officer directly witnessed the offense.

Ray Kelly either has no idea that his department fails to respond to incidents that leave thousands of New Yorkers with life-altering injuries every year, or he’s deliberately misleading the public about NYPD protocol.

  • jooltman

    Kelly is shocked, SHOCKED to find out that innocent people are being killed by the hundreds and maimed by the thousands without proper NYPD investigation.  The biggest tell of Kelly’s insincerity is that he feigns confusion when the reporter says the word “deaths.”  

  • Mark Walker

    It’s hard to assess what Kelly is really thinking solely from this report. But he sounds disoriented, as though he’d long ago delegated responsibility for these issues to an underling and then stopped paying attention.

  • Bolwerk

    For whatever good he might have once supposedly done, it’s really time for Kelly to ride off into the sunset.

    @m_walker:disqus : that isn’t really Kelly’s style. He’s a pretty big micro-manager, and he probably really doesn’t care about this matter and therefore doesn’t heed it.

  • Alberto

    Kelly says whatever Kelly wants, because Kelly is never wrong. 

  • What a clear, forceful presentation of this issue, Ben.  Thank you.

  • Anonymous

     A fish rots from the head.

    Kelly may actually know nothing about traffic law and traffic safety;
    or he may not care that more New Yorkers are being killed by cars than
    by guns. Yet Kelly persists in expending vast quantities of NYPD time
    and money stopping people on the mere suggestion of finding a gun, while
    refusing to allocate the resources to investigate car crashes that
    could remove the killer drivers from our roads.

    If Kelly truly knows nothing about traffic law or safety, he is
    incompetent and should be replaced. If Kelly truly does not care about
    stopping the deaths and injuries caused by motor vehicles, this is
    malfeasance, depraved indifference, and he should be fired.

  • Ray-Bans

    It’s time for him to go.

  • Sometimes I wonder why the Mayor thinks so highly of this police commssioner.  He doesn’t seem to have a grip on reality or what his department is doing.  He seems to act as if everything is perfectly fine, when it’s not. 

  • Anonymous


    I can’t get why the mayor likes him.  He’s his right hand man who has his back. 

    The real question is, why does the press love him so much?

    My guess is that because our press doesn’t act like a watchdog of powerful figures, rather, they become enamored by their access to such powerful figures and act as their voice, instead of their inquisitor. 

    On a day in which a young woman was run over by a truck (when young woman had the right of way, going straight through an intersection with the green while in a bike lane) and which the police have already cleared the killer,  Ray Kelly claims, erroneously, that they investigate accidents, you’d think the media might catch on.

    But instead, they get all exercised over bikes.  F—ing bikes are the problem some how.  We need a special team to investigate bikes on sidewalks.  But if you run someone over because you’re impatient (and stupid), then no big deal.  F— these “elected” leaders.  What a bunch of self-impressed a–holes. 

  • Guest

    How many times can Kelly blatantly lie to the public with absolutely no consequences?

    I’ve already lost count!

  • fj

    There’s somewhat of a disconnect here as the World Health Organization has declared the annual 1.3 millions of people that die in world-wide road accidents and the 50 million that are injured as a global health epidemic and Bloomberg has donated $100 million to his philanthropy to help combat it over the next ten years.

  • So the part where RK says “…if people are seriously injured, our accident investigation squad does an investigation” is (obviously) totally untrue.  In 2010, my fiance was nearly killed, suffered a spinal cord injury, endured emergency surgery, spent nearly three months in hospitals, and still has serious pain issues — but thank goodness can walk — and NO investigation ever ensued.  In fact, despite witnesses being present at the scene of the crime where he was doored and then hit by a speeding vehicle, no witness testimony was ever recorded and no wrong doing by either motorist or vehicle owner was ever found.  Yet if a police officer reports to the scene of a fender bender between vehicles, every shred of information is taken down.  Every scratch is documented.  But when a cyclist is involved, when a person is injured, hardly does this information get taken down or investigated.  It’s shameful.

  • Ben Kintisch

    The questions from the report were kind of weak, “Advocates say…..”
     How about, “How many people have been killed or seriously investigated this year so far without proper investigation?” or, “Why is it standard protocol for the AIS/NYPD precinct cops to tell the press ‘no criminality suspected’ within hours?” or “Why are so many more resources devoted to stopping and frisking young black and Latino men when so few resources are devoted to addressing deadly vehicular accidents?” Those kind of questions might force Kelly to say something meaningful.

  • Guest

    This headline should read:
    “Contrary to Ray Kelly, NYPD Doesn’t Investigate Traffic Crimes.”

    We need to keep emphasizing that Ray Kelly is “soft on crime” when it comes to the things that actually kill New Yorkers and the tourists who contribute to our economy.

  • There are so many case i which the police do nothing.Even there are so many cases with you also,consulting an expert solicitor helps you to get out of it and suggests & advice you what to do? and how to get the claims and the compensation.Know your rights that you have in any case of any injury.


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