High-Tech Camera Keeping Cops Safer, Traffic Flowing Smoother

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- You might think that cops who respond to armed stand-offs or domestic incidents have the most dangerous jobs on the force - but you'd be wrong.

Statistically, officers who investigate traffic accidents have the most dangerous jobs in law enforcement, but the Kansas City Missouri Police Department is getting some new high-tech equipment that they hope will make their jobs, and your daily drive, a lot safer.

On Wednesday, police investigated a high-speed chase that led to a car crashing into a south Kansas City home - leaving one suspect dead and two others in custody. The officers investigating the crash had some new technology helping them to map out the scene.

The Sokkia Station is a sort of high-tech camera that allows accident reconstruction detectives to their jobs from 1,200 feet away instead of 300, and to record their evidence a lot faster as well.

"It allows us to map a scene forensically," said Sgt. Bill Mahoney of the KCPD. "A crash scene, as opposed to a homicide scene, can be several footbal fields long."

According to Rusty James of SCOUT, the new equipment means that traffic delays following wrecks are now much shorter.

"The big wrecks that we've had to handle, we've shaved about a 114 minutes off the average time to clear," said James.

That means that not only are wreck-related traffic backups smaller, but it also means that investigators spend less time at the scene of wrecks - and less time in the path of traffic.

"Everybody thinks that police officers are going to get shot or something bad is going to happen, the reality is more police officers die in traffic related incidents than anything else," said KCPD Maj. Rich Lockhart.

In fact, the new system allows officers to simply paint marks on the highway during rush hour, then come back to do their accident mapping later.

"We can mark our evidence and come back at a later time, and often times depending on where the crash occured, we can map from the side of the road and never interrupt traffic at all," said Sgt. Mahoney.

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