Law enforcement train to keep themselves and public safe - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Law enforcement train to keep themselves and public safe during crash cleanups

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Chippewa Falls (WQOW) - Stopped along a highway, can be one of the most dangerous places to be for law enforcement.

Officers are needed to help victims of a car crash, but they always have to be on the lookout for a second crash, one that puts them in danger.  Tuesday, Chippewa Falls Officers were training to keep themselves and the public safe.

Deputy Sheriff Darin Williams, with the Chippewa County Sheriff's Department, says, "I would say it could be one of the most dangerous things that we do."

Clearing the scene of a crash may not be the first thing that comes to your mind. "More officers are hurt out on the road than are actually shot by gunfire from suspects," says Williams.  

Lieutenant Mitch Gibson, with the Chippewa County Sheriff's Department, says, "Tragically in 2008 we lost an officer during a one of those incidents."

In January of that year Chippewa County Deputy, Jason Zunker was killed. "He in fact was setting up cones to divert traffic off the roadway and was struck by an approaching vehicle during that incident," says Gibson.  

In an effort to avoid another tragedy, the Chippewa County Sheriff's Department held a training session on Tuesday, the third this month. 

Gibson says, "Sometimes we don't train enough for those types of situations, especially for the number of times we're called out on the roadway."

Wearing highly visible gear, setting up advanced emergency warning signs, and good communication are all key to keeping everyone safe.

"It gets to be quite challenging when you deal with a number of emergency personnel all on the scene at the same time.  Creating a unified command with their officer in charge and having an open line of communication often makes a scene a lot safer and makes everybody work on the same page and toward the same goal," says Gibson.  

As drivers, it's important to remember the public also plays a critical role in keeping law enforcement safe.

Gibson says, "As a vehicle passed by me at a scene, I observed the operator holding his camera phone up to as close to the window as he could to take a picture, I am sure to get it out on his Facebook. That certainly isn't the time or the place to be doing that."

Williams says, "I think we've all had some scary ones where cars comes sliding by us or doing donuts by the road right by us while we're out there and so it definitely makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up when that happens."

Chippewa Falls fire and police were also involved.

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