How Hit & Run Investigations are Conducted

Buffalo Police Lieutenant Rinaldo walks through the process

Mike Baggerman
July 10, 2017 - 3:00 am

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Reports of a hit-and-run are a commonly reported at news organizations around the country. A typical news report will state what's been reported by the police department who handled the investigation. 

But what happens during their investigation? Buffalo Police Lieutenant Jeff Rinaldo spoke with WBEN and explained the process:

"Upon the initial arrival of officers on the scene they attempt to identify witnesses that may have been at the scene," Rinaldo said. "Whether it's a driver who stopped or a person on the street, a person on their porch, a business, that's really the first piece."

The next step Buffalo Police take is to look at whatever cameras they can. Buffalo utilizes hundreds of cameras around the city, many of which help with hit-and-run investigations. Rinaldo explained that during this step officials also speak with family members of the person who was struck to understand the circumstances of the trip. 

"Then there's the forensic side," Rinaldo said. "When there is a recovery of evidence at the scene, whether its car parts left at the scene or if the vehicle is readily known and located. Then forensic recovery of evidence of the victim on the vehicle."

Rinaldo said hit and run investigations tend to be slow and tedious and added that some investigations can take a couple weeks to solve while other cases take years. 

In his 19 years as a member of the police force, Rinaldo said the proliferation of cameras are more commonplace now.

"The video surveillance has definitely made it easier," he said. "There's video surveillance all over Western New York in places you wouldn't expect to find it. It's definitely aided in the investigation. But at the end of the day, the vehicle isn't what gets charged, it's the driver of the vehicle."

Rinaldo further said that accidents can turn into tragedies if someone panics and drives away.

"It's always better to stop and get aid," he said. "You don't need to turn it into a crime by leaving the scene. There's a human life that's been tragically affected on the street. Render aid. Call 9-1-1. Do something to assist that person."

LISTEN: Lieutenant Jeff Rinaldo discusses how hit-and-runs are investigated


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