CHICAGO (CBS)– Thousands of officers get trained in simulation rooms at the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy where they learn that they can speed and blow through red lights, but there’s a catch.
It’s been crash after crash since May 22.
Five crashes over the last week have involved a Chicago police vehicle.
Tragically, one of those collision took the life of 84-year-old Verona Gunn.
In at least three of the crashes this week, Chicago police had their emergency lights and sirens activated, which according to a 2015 study makes police officers two to four times more likely to be involved in a crash and for people to get injured.
That study also found that officers with more recent training got into fewer crashes than officers who took the training more than a year ago.
“Just because the statute allows them to go faster than the speed limit or go through a red light or a stop sign, they’ve got to use their judgement about when to do it if they should do it depending on the circumstance,” said Jim Volpe, director at the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy.
Volpe heads the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy, which trains hundreds of police recruits every year on the laws and liabilities for officers on the road.
The minimum requirement across the state of Illinois is 14 hours of emergency vehicle operation training, but each police department can require additional hours beyond that.
When CBS 2 asked CPD for their training regimen, a spokesperson didn’t answer the question, but instead sent us their emergency vehicle department directives issued more than 16 years ago.
While Volpe, who is also a former police chief in Wheaton, can’t comment specifically on any of the crashes in Chicago he said a lot of these kinds of collisions can be avoided through common sense.
“Even though I have the authority to violate the traffic law, I still have to do it safely and that’s the key,” he said. ”If we can’t get there safely we’re not helping anybody.”
As for the fatal crash on Laramie and Division, Chicago Police said it was still under investigation.
There is still no word on how fast the police vehicle was traveling.