Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez announced the formation of a new law enforcement unit in response to the alarming rise in vehicle collisions and pedestrian fatalities at a press conference this morning.Â
Suarez said that the formation of the Hudson County Regional Fatal Collision Unit, an idea she first set in motion two years ago, was urgent and necessary in light of recent vehicular fatalities.
“This unit was conceptualized nearly two years ago and shortly after I assumed this office after seeing a need for it because of an increase in the number of fatal collision and fatal pedestrian incidents,” Suarez said outside her office this morning.
She noted that in 2017, there were 26 deaths caused by vehicle collisions in Hudson County.
“Eighteen of the 26 deaths in 2017 were either pedestrians or bicyclists. As a percentage that number [of 18] translates to about 70 percent [of vehicle collisions], while the state average is 24 percent.”
She added, “Fifteen of those 18 deaths were strictly pedestrians; Hudson County is tied for the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in the state.”
Suarez also emphasized that the County has to take action to prevent future auto-related fatalities.
“Speed, alcohol, drugs, distracted motorists and distracted pedestrians are all factors in many of these types of deaths,” she said.
“By acknowledging that these are the most common contributing factors, we then must come to the conclusion that education and awareness must play a larger role in how our society begins to attack this problem,” Suarez stated.
Her colleague, Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Gene Rubino, explained to Hudson County View during the Q & A portion of the press conference how exactly will the new unit’s resources curb or reverse the alarming rise of auto-related deaths.
“There are two aspects to this, this is where the science and investigative aspects are co-mingled and come tougher to [deliver] the best of the best,” Rubino said.
“Without getting into the exact details of the equipment that the new unit will be deploying, the 24 officers of the new unit who underwent thorough training on how to analyze data from a crash scene such as 3D imaging will be able to detect a driver who drives away or flees the scene.”
The hope is that the new technology’s ability to detect drivers’ identity for fleeing the scene of an accident will prove to be a deterrent to other drivers from driving under the influence or distracted by their cell phones.
The task force comes days after a deaf man was fatally struck during a police chase in Jersey City.
Law enforcement officials in attendance included Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari, Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly, West New York Police Director Robert Antolos, Hoboken Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante, Weehawken Public Safety Director Jeff Welz, among many others.