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State patrol investigation unit keeps busy across the state


MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) - The State Patrol's specialized crime scene team has been very busy over the past year helping departments across the state solve crimes.

The tactical reconstruction unit is the department's group of investigators that map out and rebuild crash scenes to help investigators. State trooper Thomas Erdmann says homicide investigations take up the majority of their time. "A death is a death, only instead of a knife or a gun, here it's a motor vehicle." Many of those cases end up being drug or alcohol related, and the state patrol covers most of those reconstruction cases.

But the team also works with local departments to help map out and catalogue crime scenes off the road as well. The unit was on scene at the Adams County shooting earlier this month where a 28-year-old male subject told police that he was startled by his girlfriend in the middle of the night and shot her with a shotgun. TRU members mapped the interior and exterior of the two-story residence where the shooting took place.

Erdmann says that the methods remain much the same for other investigations. "Just like any other crime scene, we collect evidence, we do forensic mapping, we take photographs, and collect any evidence that might help solve a case."

The unit often helps out local departments who might not have those specialized investigation units on hand in tricky cases. The department cleared and investigated 390 cases last year statewide. 85 percent of those were crashes, and the rest were mapping for other agencies.