Could technology have prevented police squad, motorcycle collision?

11:37 PM, May 15, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - The Minneapolis Police officer whose squad was involved in a collision last week that killed a motorcyclist was not speeding, according to Police Chief Janee Harteau.

Harteau says the squad had slowed to 16 or 17 miles per hour when entering the intersection, according to the vehicle's computer.

"The involved squad did have a red light. He properly did use lights and sirens. Other vehicles already stopped on both streets in both directions," she said.

The officer was called to assist and was heading to the scene where two of his fellow officers had been shot 30 minutes earlier.

But Harteau said the scene was still every active at that point.

"From the outside it has this appearance that everything is done and that's not the case," she said.

Harteau has asked the State Patrol to reconstruct the scene to avoid any conflict of interest. At this point, she says the officer involved has not been questioned.

"As you can imagine, he's been through quite an ordeal and is visibly shaken. So we want to give him the time he needs to give him a statement," she said.

KARE 11 has learned the traffic lights at 26th and Blaisdell are not equipped with technology that allows emergency vehicles to change a red light to a green light, helping to avoid collisions. But officials say other lights along that street do have that technology.

"What a very expensive way to learn it, though. This was a very expensive way to learn it. It was a loss of a life," said City Council Member Meg Tuthil.

Tuthill believes a serious look into the city's traffic system is needed.

"Maybe it's time we look at each of those intersections have that so the officers and fire fighters can trip those lights when they need to," said Tuthil.

Minneapolis Police say not all of its squads are equipped with the technology that goes atop the vehicles, which is needed for the system to work.

Of the 800 intersections with signals, the city says about half have the technology. A spokesperson tells KARE 11 crews will upgrade intersections as signals are replaced.

Whether it would have prevented a family from losing a loved one we'll never know.

"I'm sorry for their loss, regardless of the circumstances, they lost a family member," said Harteau.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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