A Soldier and a civilian police officer take measurements during traffic collision investigation training on Fort Jackson. The post hosted the training after the military course held at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio had instructor staffing issues. (Photo by Nathan Clinebelle)

Investigating accidents while not ‘accepting the status quo’

By Leader Staff Reports

Military and civilian police were schooled in the art of a traffic collision investigation as part of the Fort Jackson Police Department’s unwillingness “to accept the status quo” and to look outside the box for solutions to problems, the post’s chief of police said.

Fort Jackson hosted a Traffic Management and Collision Investigation course Oct. 24 to Nov. 10 to train police officers how to investigate traffic collisions, among other things. The course is normally taught at the Joint Service School in Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

The course at Jackson saw its origins in installation military policemen having their reservations at the Lackland course canceled due to instructor issues.

“In an effort to try to fill the need, we reached out to the course chief at Lackland and were able to obtain the entire program of instruction,” said John Hughes, chief of Fort Jackson’s police department. Hughes learned through an “outstanding” relationship with their local counterparts, that the RCSD had an instructor who “is a nationally certified accident reconstructionist and a former South Carolina Criminal Justice traffic accident instructor who helped develop the South Carolina accident investigation curriculum.”

According to Hughes, the instructor, Cpl. Phillip Darnell, agreed to teach the course, and Sheriff Leon Lott loaned the instructor for the three-week course.

Jackson military and civilian police weren’t the only ones able to attend the course, but also those from other Army posts such as Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Fort Benning, Georgia, Fort Rucker, Alabama, and Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

Darnell said he was glad to help because the Soldiers have skills that can help the RCSD as well.

“Events like this are critically important,” Hughes said. “Not only are we providing our MPs and civilian police officers with a critical skill necessary for the law enforcement mission at their respective installations, but events like this also cement the partnerships we have with our civilian counterparts. Our relationship with RCSD is what facilitated being able to host this course, and each student has had the opportunity to learn from a highly experienced accident investigator with real world experience.”

Not only did the class provide skills to the attendees it also “demonstrates our commitment to providing the best possible service to those who live, work, and frequent Fort Jackson,” Hughes added. “We remain unwilling to accept the status quo and will continue to source outside the box solutions to problems we encounter that ultimately enhance Fort Jackson.”