EDISON — Recruits at the Edison Police Department’s first advanced junior police academy had to put on their thinking hats after they found skid marks in the parking lot of Woodrow Wilson Middle School.

The skid marks led to a vehicle parked in front of a tree with a person pronounced dead at the scene.

It’s an all-too-familiar scene for officers Michael Gurovich and John Douvas of the department’s Fatal Accident Investigation Unit.

The officers spent the morning and early afternoon performing a mock fatal accident drill with the 30 recruits on July 28.

“We are not here to report an accident, we are here to investigate, refine the investigation and understand why [the incident happened]said Gurovich, encouraging rookies to think outside the box.

Officers demonstrated how they mark and measure skid marks. The recruits also learned how officers use a formula to determine the speed of a vehicle during a serious accident.

The recruits discussed different factors that could have played a role in the simulated incident:

“Was the person spooked by a deer that jumped out of nowhere? »

“Was the person carousing, donuts and speeding in the parking lot?”

“Did the person come from a barbecue or a wedding (depending on how the person was dressed) and had a little too much to drink?”

“Was the sun in the person’s eyes while driving depending on the time of day?”

“Has the person suffered from a medical condition?”

“Did the person intentionally hit the tree?”

These are all possible scenarios that the Fatal Accident Investigation Unit may consider when conducting its investigation, Gurovich said.

Assisting officers during the investigation is reviewing security cameras in the area, examining and inspecting the vehicle after police seize the vehicle and/or possibly the person’s cell phone or any effects found in the vehicle, such as drugs or even suicide. Remark.

Gurovich said that in serious vehicle crashes, the vehicle’s airbags will deploy on the side where the person is sitting. An airbag will not deploy unless a person is sitting in the seat, he said.

He also noted that the seat belts lock in place. If a person wears their seat belt, it locks in place and stays soft. If the person was not wearing their seat belt, the seat belt will lock instead of its original state. This helps officers determine whether the person was wearing their seatbelt or not, Gurovich said.

The investigation could lead in all directions. If officers observed the deployment of the passenger airbag without anyone else in sight, this indicates to officers that another person was in the vehicle.

“We should go out into the houses [across the field] to see if anyone has the Ring doorbell or security cameras,” Gurovich said.

The fatal accident simulation drill was just one of many drills the recruits participated in during the week-long academy.

Advanced Junior Police Academy participants, who are high school juniors and seniors at Edison High School, John P. Stevens High School, and surrounding high schools, learned drill and ceremony/fitness; basic patrol functions; motor vehicle stops; use of force; crime scene investigation; forensic investigation; Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training and certification and drunk driving simulation using drunk driving goggles.

Police Sergeant. Donald Ship of the Community Based Policing Unit and Det. Keith Jackson said the department intended to hold an advanced junior police academy ahead of COVID.

“We are not really [have] everything that reaches the [age] demographic of 15, 16, 17,” Jackson said, noting that one of the requirements for the academy was a 200-word essay. “We wanted to find a way to get into the community at their level, to talk to them and show them more adult versions of what they learned in middle school, give them real hard facts about applying the law and drink driving and texting and driving.”

The department organizes a junior academy for college students every summer.

Jackson said that by attending the academy, he hopes students will better understand if they see something on social media or on the road and “come back to their friends and say, ‘Hey, those really aren’t. bad guys, they’re good guys. I learned a lot from them.”

Ship said the academy would not be possible without the support and resources of Mayor Sam Joshi, his administration as well as Chief of Police Thomas Bryan and Deputy Chief of Operations Robert J. Dudash Jr. for enabling the program to take off and be a model for other agencies.

“The Advanced Junior Police Academy is changing the trajectory of our resident children who will eventually become students of our high schools and how they will end up in the near future when they go to college and start careers,” he said. he declares.

The Advanced Junior Police Academy graduation ceremony was held on July 29 in the council chambers.

Retired Lt. Robert J. Dudash Sr. was on hand to see how the Junior Police Academy has blossomed since he established the program many years ago.