The Major Crash Investigation Unit of the Missouri State Highway Patrol was officially created on July 1, 1997, following several years of study, research, and initiative by retired Captain J. D. Biram, Director of Training. At that time, Captain Biram was the lead accident investigation instructor at the Patrol's Academy. From his position as an instructor of accident investigation, he was able to document the advances in training and equipment utilized by other departments and organizations throughout the country and demonstrate a need to improve the training, methodology, and equipment of the Missouri State Highway Patrol's crash reconstructionists.
To finance the training and equipment needs it was necessary to locate and obtain grant money. In April and October of 1997 the Patrol obtained grants which financed the training and initial equipment needs. Interviews were conducted in April of 1997 to select officers for the newly established Major Crash Investigation Unit. Initially, there were three teams in the state with two officers assigned to each team. Additionally, each team was assigned an alternate to assist the teams in their geographically assigned area. The initial teams were assigned out of St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield.
From July 1 to September 30, 1997, members of the crash teams developed policies and procedures, evaluated and ordered equipment, attended specialized training, and obtained necessary office space in their newly assigned areas. On October 1, 1997, the newly created unit began to handle all level four crash investigations.
During the first year of existence, the activities of the unit were monitored closely to evaluate the unit's effectiveness. It was determined that the unit was effective in reducing the amount of time expended at the troop level investigating level four crashes. It was also determined that the workload supported the addition of another member to each of the three teams. By 1999 it was determined that the workload supported the addition of a fourth, three member team. That team was located in Jackson. The state was divided up into four geographical regions and each team was responsible for the level four crash investigations in their assigned area.
From that time to present, the members of the Major Crash Investigation Unit have investigated all level four crash investigations for the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Also, during that time, it was realized that with the specialized equipment, and training, the members could be used to assist our Division of Drug and Crime Control with crime scene documentation and mapping.
An important validation of the training and experience of the members of the Major Crash Investigation Unit is certification by the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR). Each crash team member is required to attain ACTAR certification and maintain that certification by accumulating the required continuing education hours.