SEASIDE - The front bumper of the car crumples as it crashes into the side of another vehicle.

Only yards away, another car balances on its hood after a rollover.

It's not the scene of a mass car accident. It's a "crash reconstruction site," a planned series of "accidents" created to help law enforcement officers learn to investigate motor vehicle incidents. Our Saviour's Lutheran Church donated its parking lot as the "crash site."

Forty-seven city, county and state police and sheriff officers from all over the state participated in the 24-hour, three-day First Responder to Traffic Collision course which concludes today. The officers spent Wednesday and Thursday in classroom training.

Most police officers in training academy will receive four to eight hours of crash investigation skills. But that's just not enough, said Suzy Isham, traffic safety training lieutenant for the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.

"This is very advanced," she said. "They will learn to collect evidence, measure the scene, draw correct diagrams and determine speed and distance."

Isham and her team of crash reconstructionists spent Thursday recreating 10 crashes, including vehicle versus pedestrian, T-bone, rollover and head-on accidents.

Seaside's Triangle Towing and Consolidated Towing in Bend provided eight abandoned cars for the course. Patrol cars were being used, although not crashed, to recreate other accident scenes.

"It's just a good public service we can provide," Triangle Towing owner Jim Mendenhall said.

The DPSST conducts a collision training course approximately once every three months at different state locations. Between 40 and 50 officers receive the training each time. In a cooperative effort, Oregon Department of Transportation helps pay for officer's lodging and meals.


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