Real Police Chases

HAPPY THANKSGIVING (and back in the news…)

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Wishing you and your families an incredibly

HAPPY (and safe) THANKSGIVING!!

I give special thanks for each you who support our mission to save the lives of innocent bystanders and law enforcement officers.

Don’t eat too much turkey today – that way you can eat even MORE PIE!

Jon
PS: One more thing to give thanks for today – being the opening sentence in a national paper editorial. Thank you Louisville Courier Journal (@courierjournal) and also to reporters Mandy McLaren (@mandy_mclaren) and Matt Glowicki (@MattGlo) for their excellent work.

Editorial: Louisville must restrict police chases before more people are hurt, killed

The Courier Journal Editorial Board
Published 2:43 p.m. ET Nov. 22, 2019

Jon Farris asked the right question.

How would you feel if you got a phone call saying your son or daughter (or husband or wife or mother or father) was killed because of a high-speed police chase — a chase that was unnecessary because no lives were in danger?

Devastated? Confused? Furious?

Farris’ son died during such a chase. And in the last three years, seven people in Louisville were killed in police pursuits.  READ THE REST OF THE STORY

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Thinking About Squad Cars and Guns

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Thinking about cars and guns

by Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change
May 27, 2019

Once again I awoke suddenly, shivering in a cold sweat. I had that vision – of the Taxi.  Damn.

The Taxi photo courtesy Fox 25 News, Boston . May 27, 2007

The Taxi photo courtesy Fox 25 News, Boston . May 27, 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My brain was spinning out of control.  So. Many. Questions.  The first batch were those same questions I’ve asked over and over and over again, virtually every day since Paul was killed.

  • Why didn’t Morales (the creep who killed my son) just stop?
  • Why did the State Trooper pursue for a simple misdemeanor traffic violation?
  • Did the Trooper or Morales even consider the crowded neighborhoods and dangers?
  • Why did this Trooper continue a 76 MPH pursuit into Somerville and its narrow streets, a city with a violent felony only pursuit policy?
    • Even the Somerville Police told me THEY WOULD NOT HAVE CHASED.
  • Why?  Why?  So many “whys”

For some odd wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night reason, all I could think about was how Paul was killed. And a bizarre analogy, visiting me yet again, would not go away.

Paul was killed by a 4,600 pound bullet. A bullet propelled not by a gun, but by a vehicular police chase.

Think about it. Paul’s death-by-police-pursuit is no different than if he had been shot by a police officer-fired stray bullet.

I wonder how much outrage a shooting would have sparked?  And how many policing policies might have changed to ensure such an event didn’t happen to another bystander?

Think about the annual training that officers receive with their firearms. This even though many (most) will never draw the gun from their holster other than for range practice. Yet all officers hop behind the wheel of their squad car every day. And for most of them, tactical driver training has been nothing less than abysmal, with perhaps a few hours of pursuit driving on a closed track every couple of years.

I’ll expound on the squad car-gun analogy another day, but today is for Paul.

When Paul was killed, as in nearly every pursuit situation, the criminal and the officer each had an opportunity to deescalate the situation before the collision. But neither was willing to give up.

Run; run; chase; chase.

And so whether death was from a police-pursued fleeing car or from a stray bullet, Paul and Walid paid the ultimate price.

May 27, 2019 marks the twelfth anniversary of Paul’s death. It marks the anniversary of a crumpled taxi photograph seared painfully into my conscious and subconscious mind.

It marks a new lifetime of working to correct an ongoing injustice. By preserving Paul’s memory and attempting to safeguard others through increased awareness of dangerous and unnecessary police pursuits, perhaps his story will survive.

I wish I could say happy anniversary…

I love you, Paul.

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Where There Is Life There Is Hope

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Where there is life, there is hope. 

Sometimes these are only strong words, but not in the case of Elber Twomey.

On May 5, 2019 I was contacted by Becky Newman, Chief Inspector, Police Adviser for the Home Office Security Science & Innovation and Defence Science Technology Laboratory in West Sussex, United Kingdom. It seems Ms. Newman is actively involved with the UK’s police pursuit policies and pursuit reduction activities. It was quite an honor to have a law enforcement professional reach out across the Atlantic.

Ms Newman also connected me with Elber Twomey, a mom and a loving wife.

Elber was living a peaceful existence with her husband Con, her 16-month-old son Baba Oisín, and was happily pregnant with a daughter. But like so many of my posts, this story took an incredibly tragic path in 2012.

In July 2012, the Twomey’s became innocent victims of a man determined to commit suicide in his vehicle. That despondent, speeding person was being followed (chased?) by a police officer.

Baba Oisín and his unborn sister both died within a day of the crash. And if that wasn’t enough, Elber’s husband Con passed away less than a year later, in May 2013.

Elber lost her whole family. Her children. Her soulmate. Yet she has persevered.

I encourage you to read and share Elber’s story. Because her incredible strength and caring shows that indeed, where there is life, there is hope. 

 

Here is a brief summary of the event that changed Elber’s life. https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crash-couple-had-named-unborn-girl-after-mum-26874473.html

Crash couple had named unborn girl after mum

Ralph Riegel  

THE couple fighting for their lives after an horrific crash that killed their 16-month-old son had already picked a name for their unborn baby girl, who also died.

The little girl — who was to be named ‘Elber Marie’ after her scheduled birth next December — has been hailed by heartbroken relatives as “an angel”.

Con (39) and Elber (36) Twomey remain in a critical condition in a Devon hospital, following the head-on collision outside Torquay, in Britain, last Friday.

A 20-year old Polish man — who apparently drove directly at high speed into the path of the Twomeys’ Volkswagen Golf — also died.

Devon police have not released the man’s name — although he is now the focus of a probe by its major crime unit.

Toxicology tests on the young Pole and his state of mind at the time are now central to the investigation.

Police are also examining an apparent suicide note left by the young man.

In an emotional statement yesterday, the Twomey family said that only faith and the support of so many people was helping them to cope.

The Twomey’s little boy, Oisin (aged 16 months), died in Derriford Hospital in Plymouth just an hour after the collision, despite desperate efforts by doctors to save him. His unborn baby sister died after an emergency operation to deliver her.

Elber Twomey was five months pregnant and she and Con had already picked the name ‘Elber Marie’ for their unborn baby girl. “She was born an angel,” the Twomey family said.

“Con and Elber, a devoted husband and wife, father and mother to Oisin — the light of their lives — are in the thoughts and prayers of everyone who knew them.

“The shock of the events last Friday afternoon are still so raw and heartfelt. Con and Elber always came together. The pride they had in the life shared with Oisin was obvious to all.

Shock

“The expectation they had of the child that Elber carried adding to this happiness was also so real. As they lie ill, this loss is so hard to take.”

Elber’s parents, Timmy and Rita, as well as Con’s sisters, Michelle and Colette, have maintained a vigil by their hospital bedsides.

Today, Newmarket parish priest, Fr Dave Herlihy, who married the couple, will travel to Derriford to show his support for the Twomey family.

Last night, the Twomeys paid a heartfelt thanks to the community. They said: “Embedded in their home community, Meelin and Rockchapel Parish in north-west Cork, Con and Elber were involved in all aspects of its life, from the GAA to local events. Both were always together attending, supporting their friends, neighbours and relatives.

“Their faith (was) always evident, with a proactive involvement in the church. At this time, we, their family and friends, pray that this faith is rewarded with a real recovery.

“We pray, too, for Oisin and baby Elber Marie, born an angel. We ask for the privacy of the families at this time to be respected, so we can focus on helping them in the long recovery ahead.”

The tragedy occurred at 2.45pm last Friday at Hamelin Way outside Torquay, when a Vauxhall Vectra veered directly into the path of the Volkswagen Golf that was carrying the Twomeys.

A police officer witnessed the collision — though police were not chasing the young Pole’s car at the time.

Such was the force of the collision that the main road was closed for over 10 hours and 25 emergency units — including three air ambulances — attended the scene.

Now spend some time on Elber’s site and see how, even with all this pain and sorrow, is working to create POSITIVE CHANGES. Amazing.


ORIGINAL WEBSITE IS HERE: https://elbertwomey.com/

2012_0316Oisín0008

My name is Elber Twomey. Myself and my two Beautiful Boys went on holiday in July 2012. We were an extremely happy family treating ourselves to a ten day holiday in Devon. We chose the Devon, the sunny south west for our holiday as personally I was afraid to fly as I was five months pregnant with our beautiful little lady. Taking our car also gave us the luxury of bringing lots of Baba Oisín’s toys etc., so we literally could have a home away from home. We had 6 fabulously carefree days together. Regretfully on July 6th, day seven of our holiday at 2:47 PM tragedy struck us and our wonderful life ended. We were involved in a horrific crash. This poor driver RIP was suicidal and was being followed at speed by a Police Officer. Our tragic crash claimed the lives of our beautiful little man Baba Oisín and his beautiful unborn sister.

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crash-couple-had-named-unborn-girl-after-mum-26874473.html

Twomey-family-crash-site-in-Devon

If that wasn’t tragic enough it also claimed the life of My Darling Husband and Best Friend Con on May 3rd 2013.
……. I Lost My Everybody!
They had too short a time together
http://www.independent.ie/regionals/corkman/news/they-had-too-short-a-time-together-29256579.html

I am Campaigning that All Gardaí/Police Officers will receive specific training in Suicide Awareness & how to Apprehend Suicidal Drivers. It’s to Help the Garda/Police Officer & the Suicidal Soul.

My reason for doing this is to try to help to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening to another innocent family. I want to try to achieve a simple thing, to try to make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen here!!

The  following is a link to TV3 Disclosure ‘The Elber Twomey Story’.

 

This documentary tells our horrific story with regard to the tragic events that led to our crash on July 6th 2012 and indeed how it led me to campaign for suicide awareness training for all our Gardaí, Police Officers in the UK and beyond, and that my hope is that they will address the suicidal driver in this training. My thinking being that this training is to help and support the Garda/Police Officer who is faced with such a stressful situation along with hopefully helping the suicidal person that they may encounter.

It includes great interviews with my brother Tomás, close friends of Con’s, Thomas and Michael, wonderful nurses from Torbay Hospital who looked after us in the aftermath of our crash, along with Chief Superintendent Jim Nye of Devon & Cornwall Police and Superintendent Patrick McCabe from the Garda Training College in Templemore in Ireland.

It also features great moments from our http://www.twomeyfamilyremorial.comweekend which we run in June. The aim of the weekend is to Remember with Love and to Honour Con, Baba Oisín & Baby Elber-Marie & to promote the reality of how precious life is. The funds we raise from our weekend have gone to help the Hospitals who looked after us following the crash, Brú Columbanus in Cork who provide home from home accommodation for relatives of seriously ill patients in the Cork hospitals along with great suicide support groups – Reach Out, 3T’s, Samaritans in Cork & Pieta House.

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Two More Innocent Citizens Die – For A Stolen Car Police Chase

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This story plays out EVERY SINGLE DAY across the US. Police chasing stolen vehicles and ALWAYS endangering innocent bystanders. In this case, Maria and Rosemary had to die so policy could chase. When will this stupidity end?

 

ORIGINAL KSN.com STORY AND VIDEO HERE: https://www.ksn.com/news/local/woman-and-girl-killed-in-crash-involving-fleeing-vehicle-identified/1980972004

Woman and girl killed in crash involving fleeing vehicle identified

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita police tell KSN that a 12-year-old girl and 70-year-old woman died after a multi-car crash in downtown Wichita. It happened just before 2 p.m. Sunday at Douglas and Broadway.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, a 2001 BMW with two people inside was fleeing from Wichita police on Broadway heading southbound.

At the intersection, the BMW struck a 1998 Toyota with three people inside on the drivers side. The Toyota spun out and struck another Chevy with one person.

The woman and girl who died in the crash are identified as 70-year-old Maria Wood and 12-year-old Rosemary McElroy. Both are from Wichita and were in the Toyota. Another woman, 36-year-old Jennifer Wood, was injured and transported to the hospital.

The two people in the BMW, 24-year-old Mia Collins and 38-year-old Christopher English, were transported to the hospital.

A driver of the Chevy, 65-year-old Alfred Angel, was also taken to the hospital.

Captain Jeff Weible says the two suspects accused of causing the crash are in the hospital.

The crash spawned from a car chase, when officers saw an alleged stolen vehicle at the 1000 block of North Broadway.

“As they were trying to turn around to follow the vehicle, the vehicle took off at a high rate of speed,” said Capt. Weible, Wichita Police Department.

Some people who work nearby said they keep replaying the scene in their mind. Legend Journey works inside a building right next to where the crash happened. She was emotional as she recalled what she saw.

“I just walked up to the window, and I saw her feet,” said Journey. “So, I ran away from the window. Just to know that it was right outside where I work and they wanted us to keep working.”

Police are still investigating. KSN hopes to learn more later todya.

“When we have an incident of this magnitude, we’re going to review it thoroughly to make sure we not only follow policy but state law,” said Capt. Weible.

While witnesses said they’re thinking of the families involved, they said they’re also trying to process what they saw.

“It shouldn’t have happened,” said Journey. “It kind of makes me angry because is stealing a car really worth two people’s lives?”

The areas from Topeka to Market on Douglas and from William to 1st Street on Broadway were shut down for several hours.

 

A follow-up story printed in the Wichita Eagle is here: https://www.kansas.com/news/local/crime/article230076459.html

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Seat Belt Violation Pursuit Injures Innocent Bystanders

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Police Chases For Misdemeanor Traffic Violations MUST STOP!

Independence Missouri is like way too many other jurisdictions. They allow officers virtually unlimited ability to engage in very dangerous, high speed police chases through city streets. And in cities like this, each and every day innocent citizens are injured and killed.

The answer is simple. STOP pursuing for misdemeanors and simple property crimes. Only pursue for violent felonies, and only then if no other safer options are available.
More training is necessary. Greater usage of technology tools is encouraged. And law enforcement MUST be held accountable for making poor decisions that injure or kill innocents.

Following is an excellent report by Cat Reid at television station KSHB 41. Go to their site and watch the video. Bad decisions abound, especially running at 80 MPH with a mud-streaked windshield. It is horrible that two innocent people were grievously injured, but tell me the pursuing officer could have seen a kid running into the street. It is actually amazing that no one was killed.



ORIGINAL STORY AND VIDEOS HERE:  https://www.kshb.com/news/local-news/innocent-bystanders-injured-in-independence-police-chase-over-seat-belt-violation

Innocent bystanders injured in Independence police chase over seat belt violation

IPD policy allows pursuits for any crime
Posted: 11:00 AM, Apr 25, 2019
Updated: 5:29 AM, Apr 26, 2019

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — On a Saturday afternoon in January, Sherry Ross decided to drive her 91-year-old father to Mass.

“He was going, ‘you didn’t have to pick me up for church,’ and I said, ‘Dad, you don’t need to be driving when I can drive you,’” Ross said, remembering that day.

Just a few minutes later, Ross heard sirens near the intersection of Sterling Avenue and Blue Ridge Boulevard. Her father saw what was coming and tried to verbalize a warning.

“He yelled ‘watch,’ but he never got ‘out’ out,” Ross said.

The driver of a maroon pickup truck ran a red light and slammed into Ross’s small SUV, totaling it. Ross walked away with a broken sternum, while her dad suffered a broken sternum, eight broken ribs and a punctured lung.

Independence police chase-Sherry Ross

Contributed photo
Sherry Ross and her 91-year-old father were badly injured when the driver of a pickup truck ran a red light and slammed into their small SUV. The crash occurred during a high-speed chase that Independence police initiated over a minor traffic violation.

Later, Ross would learn what had happened that day was more than just a horrific crash.

“It was awful, but I think what was so frustrating then was knowing it was a chase,” Ross said.

An Independence police officer attempted a traffic stop on Jan. 26 near the intersection of 23rd Street and Harvard Avenue. The officer’s dashboard camera video shows the suspect took off down Harvard, a quiet neighborhood street.

When the driver hit a dead end on 25th Street, he quickly reversed toward Sterling Avenue. As the man, later identified as James W. Mathis, tried to turn around, his tires became stuck in a muddy lot. Eventually he was able to drive off, spewing mud across the officer’s windshield in the process.

It’s hard to see what happened next, since the windshield wipers on the patrol car smeared the mud, impairing visibility in the video. However, according to a police report, the chase continued down Sterling Avenue, with Mathis running two red lights and reaching speeds of 84 miles per hour.

The four-minute pursuit ended as he ran a third light, crashing into Ross’s car.

The chase that ended in the crash, injuring Ross and her father, was initiated over a traffic violation. The officer said Mathis wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

“I was livid,” Ross said about learning the reason for the pursuit.

Her niece, Angela Angotti, felt the same way.

“We have to count on the law enforcement professionals to be calm and to make good decisions,” Angotti said, “and to have a police chase over a seat belt violation just seems unnecessary. It’s an unnecessary risk.”

Independence pursuit policy

Both Independence and Kansas City, Kansas, police allow pursuits for any crime.

Sherry Ross and her father are not the first people injured as a result of those chases. Over a five-year period, Independence pursuits led to $1.1 million in payouts for property damage and lawsuit settlements.

In 2014, the KCK Police Department settled two lawsuits related to pursuits for $625,000.

Multiple requests for interviews with the chiefs of both departments went unanswered.

An IPD spokesman did respond to some questions via email,  emphasizing that the collateral damage of chases rests on the shoulders of suspects.

“It is the criminal who places the public at risk and puts themselves in danger for failing to lawfully comply with the vehicle stop,” Independence police spokesman John Syme said in the email. “Police officers are attempting to prevent crime and protect society.”

Syme declined to provide specifics on the pursuit involving Ross and her father, citing the potential for litigation in the case.

According to the Independence pursuit policy, “pursuits for traffic violations or for misdemeanors will be avoided or terminated if they pose unnecessary risk to life or property.”

 

When Syme sat down with 41 Action News in February 2018, he tried to explain why the department allows pursuits for such minor crimes.

“Oftentimes you’ll hear a pursuit immediately terminated if it’s just for traffic violations,” he said at the time. “But we also know that something that appears to be traffic at first, maybe just someone running a red light, could be indicative of something much more serious. Maybe they just committed a crime.”

That logic doesn’t hold up in the eyes of University of South Carolina professor Geoffrey Alpert, who has been studying high-risk police activities, including pursuits, for more than 30 years.

“You can’t justify a pursuit based on what you think or based on what you might know,” he said.

A model policy

Through his years of research, Alpert came to the conclusion that department’s policies have to draw a clear line in the sand.

“I think it’s important for management, the chief or the sheriff, to come in and say if you’re not chasing for a violent crime, then it’s not worth it,” he said.

Alpert points to the New Orleans Police Department’s policy as a model for other agencies. That policy allows for pursuits only when officers have “reasonable suspicion that a fleeing suspect has committed or has attempted to commit a crime of violence…and the escape of the subject would pose an imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or to another person.”

In the policy, a crime of violence is defined as “a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious bodily injury or death.”

The NOPD policy prohibits pursuits for property and misdemeanor offenses and traffic or civil infractions.

Alpert argues such a policy is not only safer for the public, but also better for officers, who have mere seconds to make hard choices.

“It’s just not fair to the officers to force them to make all those decisions. I think management should do it from the boardroom,” he said.

Experts say another important attribute of any policy is the inclusion of an independent third party that can make the call on whether or not to pursue.

“As strange as it may sound, it sort of takes the heat off of the officer for that feeling of saying I just let somebody go. It wasn’t their decision,” said John Hamilton, an associate professor of criminal justice at Park University.

The IPD’s pursuit policy states that “the decision to initiate a vehicular pursuit rests with the individual officer.” However, a supervisor can terminate the chase at any time.

In 2018, 66 percent of initiated pursuits were terminated, with the majority of those decisions being made by the officers behind the wheel, according to IPD.

A call for change

It’s unclear why the department allowed the chase that injured Ross and her father to continue.

After the crash, officers determined James Mathis’s girlfriend and his 7-year-old son were in the backseat during the pursuit, according to the police report. Neither was wearing a seat belt during the chase, and Mathis was charged with endangerment of a child.

Independence police pursuit - Mathis car

Contributed photo
A pickup truck driven by James Mathis slammed into a small SUV following a police chase that reached speeds of 84 mph. Independence police initiated the pursuit over a seat belt violation.

Police said they found 0.2 grams of marijuana in the center console of the truck, as well as drug paraphernalia, including a glass pipe and scale. According to the police report, an officer also found 1.4 grams of meth and a pipe in Mathis’s jeans pocket.

Before the chase, his record only reflected two traffic warrants and a revoked license. Now he’s facing charges for fleeing and for the crash.

For Sherry Ross, the end doesn’t justify the means.

“Something’s got to change,” she said.

The family is determined to see that happen. Angotti is an attorney and knows that one way to fight the issue is in court.

But she doesn’t want to sue the city of Independence. Instead, she wants her family compensated and the pursuit policy changed.

“It would be nice if it didn’t have to go this way this time, and if we can do something and use this to help other people,” she said.

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More About Milwaukee’s Dangerous Pursuit Policies

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More About Milwaukee’s Dangerous Pursuit Policies

More and more people are recognizing the highly political nature of Milwaukee’s “pursue for any reason until the wheels fall off” police chase changes. Officers are dying. Innocent citizens are dying. Fleeing vehicles are screaming down Milwaukee’s densely populated neighborhoods at 75 miles per hour and faster – putting EVERYONE at risk. And in 2018, MPD was doing this THREE TIMES EVERY SINGLE DAY.

This is insanity. This is not working. This is killing people. And this needs to stop.

If it takes replacing Aldermen and members of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, then I encourage Milwaukee voters to do something about it.

Do it before some you love is killed unnecessarily.

Thanks to Urban Milwaukee reporter Bruce Murphy for reaching out to me and for writing this thoughtful article about Milwaukee’s out of control police pursuits.

 

ORIGINAL STORY AT: https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2019/04/25/murphys-law-are-police-pursuits-out-of-control/

MURPHY’S LAW
Bruce Murphy

Are Police Pursuits Out of Control?

Massive increase in high-speed chases under the new policy. Results are scary.

By  – Apr 25th, 2019 11:38 am

Last week Saturday another person was killed after high-speed police chase. A Fox 6 report included a cell phone video of the police car barreling down a city street and covered the resulting carnage that occurred.

This was in response to what police believed was “drug dealing” with no further information offered. The police did not say the person chased was suspected of committing any violence, which would be consistent with most such chases in America, which are in response to non-violent offenses, typically traffic violations. 

The 27-year-old man being chased sped through a stop sign, crashing into another vehicle and then careening into a home, where his car burst into flames and ignited the house. “The vehicle sheered the gas main to the house, creating a very dangerous situation inside the house,” said Battalion Chief Erich Roden, Milwaukee Fire Department.

The man being chased was killed and the driver he hit was injured. “Jazzmine Salaam says the speeding vehicle smashed into her cousin driving an SUV at the intersection of 13th and Capitol. She was taken to the hospital with minor injuries,” as Fox 6 reported. 

David Miller, the homeowner, might have been killed but wasn’t at home at the time. He described the explosion to Channel 12, saying it “busted all my windows, everything melted… the TV melted. I lost about 20 good guitars.”  

Miller is “still in shock,” says his brother and his home, which was uninsured, is almost completely destroyed. The brother has just launched a crowd funding campaign to pay for a new home.

All told that’s one person killed, one injured and one in shock with an incinerated home, all to capture one guy who may have been involved in a drug deal. That’s how Milwaukee’s police pursuit policy works these days. 

Last year, Milwaukee police engaged in 940 chases, nearly triple the number in 2017, and well more than the total number of pursuits for the seven year period from 2008 through 2014, when there were 858 pursuits. These numbers come from a new report by the Fire and Police Commission (FPC).

Slightly more than half of the pursuits in 2018 — 491 — hit a speed of more than 75 miles per hour, and most were on city streets. The percent of police chases that exceeded 75 miles per hour has risen from just 10 percent in 2012 to 52 percent last year, the report found. 

About 18 percent of the chases terminated in a car crash and 25 percent caused a car accident. Thirteen officers were injured during the pursuits, one fatally, 112 people being chased were injured, five of whom died and 38 bystanders were injured. 

Yet only 21 percent of the pursuits involved a violent felony. Most — nearly 70 percent — involved a traffic violation or reckless vehicle.

And the vast majority of pursuits didn’t catch the subject: Just 38 percent of the pursuits resulted in apprehensions. 

The skyrocketing increase in pursuits is the direct result of a new policy pushed for in 2017 by Milwaukee Common Council members. A letter from 13 of 15 council members noted a rise in killings by hit-and-run drivers, and also claimed that speeding, red light-running and reckless driving were occurring at record levels.

Then-Police Chief Edward A. Flynn opposed any change in the pursuit policy. 

He had already strengthened the pursuit policy in 2015, which allowed police to chase if either the vehicle or occupants had been involved in a felony or attempted felony, or if the vehicle or occupant(s) presents a clear and immediate threat to the safety of others,” which appeared to target reckless driving. 

The result was a significant increase in pursuits, to 263 in 2015 and 306 in 2016 — more pursuits than in any year since 2002. But the council wanted still more pursuits and so the Fire and Police Commission ordered a stronger policy.  

A new policy created in September 2017 added language allowing a chase if “the occupant(s) of the vehicle are engaged in drug dealing” and if “the necessity of immediate apprehension outweighs the level of danger created by the vehicle pursuit, as in the case of the vehicle engaging in reckless driving.” 

The resulting massive increase in pursuits doesn’t seem to have done much about the hit-and-runs and speeding cited by council members: in 2018 crashes caused by speeding were up by 32 percent and crashes caused by hit-and-run drivers rose 17 percent, the latest police report shows.

Flynn’s successor, Police Chief Alfonso Morales, said the increased pursuits have led to a drop in vehicle theft, carjackings and violent crime. “Is it dangerous? Absolutely it is,” as Morales described the pursuits to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But we’re always looking for an alternative way to make it safer.”

Actually the department had an alternative. Under Flynn it had adopted new technology developed by a private company called Star Chase, whereby police shoot at GPS “bullet” about the size of a soup can that can stick to a fleeing car. A 2014 report found it is effective in 55 percent of cases, meaning it sticks to a car and an arrest is later made. That compares to the apprehension rate of 38 percent for last year’s 940 chases.

“During the year 2016 MPD deployed this technology 156 times, successfully attaching it to fleeing vehicles 112 times,” a past FPC report noted. 

The approach enables police to avoid high-speed chases that often are aggressive adrenaline-fueled contests between officers and a suspect that lose track of innocent bystanders in a dense urban setting. “Studies show they almost go into pure tunnel vision when they begin a pursuit. The adrenaline kicks in,” said Jonathan Farris, a pursuit-safety advocate who lives in Madison, WI, in a story by McClatchey.

Whereas the Star Chase devices “give officers time to [let the adrenaline high pass], so by the time the pursuit is over, they can think more clearly and make better tactical decisions,” as MPD Inspector Terrence Gordon told Governing magazine in 2016. Yet since Flynn left, there has been no discussion of this technology.

A model policy by the International Association of Chiefs of Police recommends pursuits “only if the officer has a reasonable belief that the suspect, if allowed to flee, would present a danger to human life or cause serious injury. In general, pursuits for minor violations are discouraged.”

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, whose board of directors consists of police chiefs, told McClatchey there is no evidence that restrictions on pursuits lead to increases in crime and lawlessness. His organization advocates for sharp restrictions on pursuits.

“There are too many cases of people dying needlessly – tragedies that trump whatever the other arguments there are about people perceiving this as getting away with infractions,” Wexler said. “We’re talking about saving lives here.”

Farris, who heads Pursuit for Change, a Wisconsin-based advocacy group for victims of police pursuits, spoke to the Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission in 2017 to urge it not to push for more pursuits. He has since written letters to the commission urging a reconsideration of the policy, with no response. His impression was that the FPC, though it is supposed to be an independent agency, was simply doing the Common Council’s bidding. 

Farris became an advocate after his son was killed in 2007 during a police pursuit in Massachusetts. “My son and his girlfriend were riding in a taxi which was t-boned by an SUV pursued by the police for an illegal U-turn,” he recalled in an interview with Urban Milwaukee. “My son and the taxi driver were killed and the girl spent years in rehabilitation.” 

Farris believes Milwaukee will eventually be forced to change its policy. “They’ve already killed multiple innocent people. There are going to be more people killed and that’s what’s going to inevitably change the policy. Or there will be a humongous lawsuit against the city.”  

Meanwhile keeps your eyes peeled for high speed chases. On average there were nearly three such pursuits per day last year.

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.

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Milwaukee sees big uptick in police chases

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THIS is NOT success. THIS is FAILURE. Milwaukee #PoliceChase statistics from 2018:

  • 165 individuals in the chased vehicle were injured
  • 22 police employees were injured
  • 38 pursuits ended with an injury to a third party

Milwaukee sees big uptick in police chases after policy changed in 2017

MILWAUKEE — In 2018, the Milwaukee Police Department averaged 18 police chases every week, a big increase from 2017. A new report breaks down what happened after the city changed its pursuit policy. The report looks at how the numbers changed over the last decade, and it’s clear the policy change allowing police officers to pursue reckless drivers had an impact.

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission met Thursday, April 18, to discuss the report.

Beginning in September 2017, Milwaukee police officers were allowed to pursue cars engaged in reckless driving or believed to be engaged in drug dealing.

“We have go to have the ability to go after individuals who are wreaking havoc on our streets,” Alderman Bob Donovan said.

Alderman Donovan supported the change, as did Alderman Russel Stamper.

“I was expecting we’d have a safer community and that we’d hold those people that are driving recklessly accountable,” said Alderman Stamper.

Along with the increase in pursuits came an increase in pursuits that ended in a crash — once again, a sharp spike for 2018.

Below are statistics from 2018:

  • 165 individuals in the chased vehicle were injured
  • 22 police employees were injured
  • 38 pursuits ended with an injury to a third party

“I will speak with the chief and ask him, ‘Is this still the best route to go?’ I think so, but we may have to do some tweaking,” Stamper said.

While Stamper said he wants to evaluate the decision, Donovan’s opinion on the policy hasn’t wavered.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the important thing is that the numbers are being tracked closely. “I think that’s the important thing that there’s always a balance between high-speed chases and public safety,” Mayor Barrett said.

The report breaks down a lot of different numbers, including when and where these police chases are happening, and also, what happens with those pursuits that don’t end in a crash. Less than 38 percent of pursuits end with the subject being taken into custody.

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Milwaukee Police Chase Policy Continues To Raise Questions After Deadly Crashes This Month

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More pursuits. More deaths. More injuries. More sorrow. More politics.
Milwaukee (MPD & MFPC & Milwaukee City Council) continues down a dangerous and unsustainable path.

Thanks to reporter Corri Hess for reaching out to us.

Milwaukee Police Chase Policy Continues To Raise Questions After Deadly Crashes This Month

Report Shows Nearly 155 Percent Chase Increase Since 2017 Policy Change

Published: Monday, April 22, 2019, 4:00pm

Photo by Gretchen Brown, WPR

Two high-speed police chases in Milwaukee since April 11 have left two people dead and at least six others injured.

The deadly chases happened the same month a new study was released showing a nearly 155 percent increase in police chases since the Milwaukee Police Department changed its policy in 2017 to allow officers to pursue reckless vehicles.

On Saturday afternoon a 27-year-old man died after a police chase. Milwaukee police were investigating a drug complaint when the driver involved in the suspected matter refused to stop, said city Police Inspector Jutiki Jackson.

The driver, who has not been identified, reportedly flew through a stop sign at North 13th Street and West Capitol Drive at a high rate of speed. After crashing into an SUV, the driver crashed into a vacant house and the car burst into flames, Jackson said in a press release. The house also started on fire.

The driver of the SUV was treated for minor injuries. The suspect did not survive.

In a separate incident, an 18-year-old man died Monday afternoon, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office, after the man, who has not been identified, was involved in a police chase Thursday. The chase began after a triple shooting. Six others were injured.

Milwaukee Police Officer Charles Irvine Jr, 23, died in June while he and another officer were pursuing a suspect. The squad car crashed as they chased the suspect on the city’s northwest side.

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission voted unanimously in September 2017 to expand the police department’s chase policy to reckless drivers and drug dealers. The change was something former Police Chief Edward Flynn disagreed with, saying at the time, it would endanger more people.

Flynn limited the department’s chase policy in 2010 to officers only being allowed to chase drivers suspected of committing a violent felony after four people were killed in one month.

Jackson did not respond to Wisconsin Public Radio’s request for comment by deadline. He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the police department has no plans to change the police pursuit policy.

“We have individuals who are committing major felonies in the city, violent felonies in the city,” Jackson told the Journal Sentinel. “They’re drug dealing, and they’re destroying neighborhoods. So when they take off from officers, we’re going to pursue.”

Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman said each chase has its own set of individual circumstances. The best answer is for trained police officers to exercise professional judgment when pursing a chase, he said.

Bauman said increased vehicle crashes were a possibility when the city changed its vehicle pursuit policy, but it had to be done.

“We were getting to the point where there was no accountability for some of the really bad driving that was going around and the bad guys knew it,” Bauman said.

There were 940 police chases in 2018, up from 369 in 2017, according to the study presented Thursday to the city Fire and Police Commission. Twenty-five percent of the chases last year resulted in a traffic accident.

During almost 500 of the chases, the police vehicles were being driven more than 75 mph, according to the report.

About 67 percent of the chases were for reckless vehicles; 21 percent were for violent felonies; and 3 percent were drug related, according to the report.

Jonathan Farris, who heads Pursuit for Change, a Wisconsin-based national police pursuit victims’ advocacy group, believes if Milwaukee doesn’t change its policy, there will be more deaths.

“It just doesn’t make sense to have an officer-decided pursuit policy in a city of the density of Milwaukee,” Farris said. “You see from reports the types of things they are pursing. The vast majority of them are reckless behavior. Well, that’s a pretty tough one to define.”

Farris’ son, Paul Farris, was killed on Memorial Day weekend in 2007 when a fleeing driver being chased by a Massachusetts State Trooper struck the cab Paul and his girlfriend were riding in.

Paul and the cab driver were killed. Paul’s girlfriend was critically injured but survived.

“Their whole policy has set them back 20 years,” Farris said regarding the Milwaukee Police Department. “They’ve lost a police officer, they’ve lost citizens. Ultimately, more innocent citizens are going to die. There is a really good chance more of their police officers are going to die and there is no need for that.”

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Until the wheels fall off

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We are reading about more and more cities pursuing insane numbers of vehicles, the majority of which were for misdemeanors and property crimes.

The stats in this story are telling – it’s a horrible result and a horrible attitude. More innocents WILL DIE.

Until the wheels fall off: St. Ann is proud of its rep for police chases, but there are costs.

 

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MILWAUKEE: 2018 Police Pursuit Statistics. A Sad Story

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MILWAUKEE: 2018 Police Pursuit Statistics

These statistics speak for themselves (and that is NOT good).

Thousands of citizens continue to be put in harm’s way by the Milwaukee Police Department’s out-of-control pursuit policy.

2018 Vehicle Pursuit Report
Overview

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Milwaukee Police Pursuit Policies Continue To Endanger And Kill

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Milwaukee continues to ignore the fact that they are endangering citizens every single day. How many more will die before they fix their pursuit policies?

 

Man dead after police chase ends in crash, fire near 13th and Capitol

MILWAUKEE — A 27-year-old man is dead after a Milwaukee police pursuit, that stemmed from a drug complaint, led to a fatal crash near 13th and Capitol on Saturday, April 20.

Home surveillance reveals the moments the speeding vehicle led police on the chase.

“The vehicle burst into flames and ignited the house,” said Milwaukee Police Inspector Jutiki Jackson.

Firefighters rushed to the scene. Vehicle into house near 13th and Capitol in Milwaukee

“The vehicle sheered the gas main to the house, creating a very dangerous situation inside the house,” said Battalion Chief Erich Roden, Milwaukee Police Department.

Police say the chase began as a drug complaint investigation near 40th and Auer.

Officers observed a vehicle that they believed to be involved in a drug dealing complaint and attempted to stop it,” Jackson said.

Jazzmine Salaam says the speeding vehicle smashed into her cousin driving an SUV at the intersection of 13th and Capitol. She was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

“She called and said she was in a car accident. I came as fast as I could,” Salaam said.

Salaam says her cousin was running errands when a car came out of nowhere.

“She was just going to Walgreens, going to get medicine and got hit,” Salaam said.

A chase ending in crash and chaotic scene. A sight some hope to never see again.

“Everybody should slow down so we can enjoy our summer because it doesn’t last long,” Salaam said.

The driver of the fleeing vehicle was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing.

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Ohio Police Pursuit Legislation

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Model Pursuit Policy & Harsher Penalties

Dear Representative Plummer.

I applaud your efforts to reduce injuries and deaths of innocent Ohio citizens caught up in unnecessary non-violent felony police chases. Ohio
has, sadly, pursuistories in media nearly every single day.

Your career as a law enforcement professional and now state representative place you in an incredible position to make a true difference. And I
want to offer any support that I can.
My son was killed in 2007. an innocent bystander killed as the result of a pursuit after a man who made an illegal u-tum and then fled the police. In addition to my son, a taxi driver was killed and my son’s girlfriend spent months in the hospital and years in rehab. NONE OF THIS WAS NECESSARY. yet ii is occurring many. many times every day.

One FBI study estimated nearly 68,000 pursuits across the US in a single year. And 90% of those are for misdemeanors or property crimes. Our organization, Pursuit For Change (https://pursultforchange.org) ls working to reduce non-violent felony pursuits and to provide support for law enforcement – gaining them knowledge of and access to funding for pursuireduction technology and the newest driver training options.

As you have pointed out, the issue of so many different cross jurisdictional pursuit policies only confuses the issues more. A single, more restrictive state policy will certainly SAVE LIVES.

Please feel free to reach out if can be or any help. have the support of many law enforcement officers, including major cities chiefs. Thank you again for recognizing this problem and, rather than ignoring it or hoping for it to go away, taking proactive steps to reduce Ohio citizen injuries and deaths.

Kindest regards.

Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate
Pursuit For Change

 

Double-fatal police chase: Pursuits ‘2nd most dangerous thing’ for cops

Original Story: https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/double-fatal-police-chase-pursuits-2nd-most-dangerous-thing-for-cops/KzTneFfbVmvdAc1sJObOII/

Ohio governor, local lawmaker talk about legislation regarding fleeing drivers.

The state representative who served a decade as Montgomery County sheriff talked this week with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine about new standards for police pursuits and stiffer sentences for those who trigger them.

State Rep. Phil Plummer said uniform pursuit rules would increase public safety for an action that has led to at least five local deaths in the past year.

A pair of teens – one of which was a 15-year-old girl whose name was released Tuesday – were killed while riding Sunday in Trotwood in a speeding, fleeing car that hit a Greater Dayton RTA bus after a failed police traffic stop.

RELATED: Double-fatal crash with RTA bus latest deadly wreck involving area police chases

“Chases are the second most dangerous thing a law enforcement officer does. Number 1 is discharging a firearm,” Plummer said.

“We’re very well-trained. We have strict policies on discharging a firearm,” he said. “But unfortunately, our chase policies, they’re all over the place. They’re like spilled milk.”

The 40th District Republican said he spoke with the governor about proposing legislation using a state report DeWine once commissioned as Ohio attorney general after a 2016 fatal, high-speed Huber Heights police pursuit that ended with the death of a third-party driver.

“There are different policies in different jurisdictions,” Plummer said. “So it’s very confusing when a chase occurs: Can this jurisdiction engage? Can they not? Dispatchers are trying to vet all of this while they’re sending in help and resources. It’s very complicated.”

RELATED: Latest deadly police chase: ‘We’re just killing too many innocent people’

Plummer said he’s not locked in to having a statewide pursuit policy.

“I’d like to see at least a countywide…general pursuit policy that we all understand and follow,” he said.

The 2017 task force report issued by the attorney general’s office under DeWine went to Ohio’s nearly 1,000 law enforcement agencies with a list of “best practices” of when and how to pursue.

Under the initiation of pursuit procedures, the advisory group’s report states, “the policy should distinguish violent felonies and property offenses, or OVIs and traffic violations.”

Why Trotwood police sought to stop a Pontiac on Free Pike on Sunday has not been publicly released. Police Chief Erik Wilson spoke only briefly Sunday about what led up to the wreck.

RELATED: Judge: Deadly police chase defendant ‘lit the fuse’ for Lebanon Realtor’s death

The Dayton Daily News on Monday requested police reports, cruiser and traffic cameras, and additional information about the crash, but Trotwood police as of Tuesday afternoon did not provide any new information on the case.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office on Tuesday identified Mya’nie Nabors, a 15-year-old Trotwood-Madison student, as a fatality in the crash that also killed Kyren Wright, 18, of Dayton.

They died after the car – driven at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour by Christopher Baker, 18, of Dayton – hit the RTA bus, causing the car to burst into flames, authorities said.

The rate of speeds for police vehicles in pursuits should be tempered by the seriousness of the crime, said Thomas Hagel, professor emeritus at the University of Dayton Law School.

RELATED: Car in deadly police chase ‘torn in 3 pieces,’ back seat in Dayton field

In cases of violent crimes, he said, “then I think the officer should have a wider discretion on initiating a chase and….speeds.”

However, “Once an officer has initiated a chase, he has created two sources of danger. One is the fleeing vehicle as well as his vehicle,” Hagel said.

Plummer went a bit further.

“It’s not worth chasing anybody right now if it’s not a violent felony,” he said.

The punishment for those who flee law enforcement officers is an important consideration for new guidelines, Plummer said.

RELATED: A woman’s death following a police pursuit has again raised questions about chasing fleeing vehicles

The basic offense of fleeing or eluding is considered a first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio, although fleeing or eluding also can be a felony under some circumstances. Currently, the penalty for misdemeanor fleeing or eluding is up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

Plummer said a better deterrent would be a five-year sentence – with no plea bargains — for those convicted.

He said, “We need the balance. We have to realize, we may kill somebody’s family chasing this one person.”

In September 2018, during a Moraine police pursuit of a vehicle reported stolen, Officer Matt Barrie was within division guidelines and was given the go-ahead by a superior. He reached speeds of up to 80 miles per hour on Ohio 741 while chasing a stolen Jeep, records show.

RELATED: Longtime Realtor struck and killed in high-speed police chase

Barrie’s cruiser then collided a car driven by Mary Taulbee, an uninvolved motorist whose vehicle had been hit by another car seeking to avoid the oncoming stolen Jeep, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Alyssa Irwin-Debraux of Dayton was the driver of the stolen Jeep, police records show. She wrecked it minutes later near the Dayton Mall and was arrested.

Earlier this year, she was sentenced to 13 years in prison in connection with Taulbee’s death.

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Grand Forks Pursuits Double

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Again we have LEOs “talking the talk” but not “walking the walk.”

  1. When a suspect runs, the officer has a CHOICE. If the officer pursues, then they started the chase. Period.
  2. When a suspect crashes, even if the pursuit was “called off” before the exact moment of the crash, IT IUS TILL A POLICE-PURSUIT RELATED CRASH, INJURY OR DEATH. There is no other way to paint this in any other fashion.

Dangerous high-speed #PoliceChases as a result of misdemeanor traffic violations are reckless and ALWAYS endanger innocent citizens.

When suspects flee: Herald analysis shows police chases in GF doubled in 2018, resulting in recent high mark

When he was a patrol officer, Grand Forks Police Lt. Derik Zimmel hated being involved in vehicle pursuits.

Chases glorified in TV shows and movies make pursuits appear exciting, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. Some portray officers who love pursuits. Zimmel said he can’t speak for all officers, but he doesn’t know any who would choose to be involved in a pursuit if given the choice.

“No pursuit is ever safe,” Zimmel said. “Every pursuit is dangerous, and nobody ever wants to be in one. I don’t want to crash. I don’t want anybody else to crash.”

In Grand Forks, 2018 produced 25 police chases for the Grand Forks Police Department, more than any other year in the last decade, according to numbers from the department. The figure was double the 2017 count of 13, and almost three times the 2008 total of nine, according to a Herald analysis. The 2018 number actually reached 26 when counting an unresolved case involving a person on a bicycle.

The Herald searched records related to every chase that occurred last year in Grand Forks and found at least 10 exceeded 70 mph within city limits, with five reaching or exceeding 100 mph. Six vehicles crashed, resulting in several injuries and one death.

Seventeen of the 25 chases occurred between midnight and 5:16 a.m. Six occurred in a busy span over the final seven weeks of the year.

In several cases, passengers were endangered, including in the December pursuit of Saha Bahaour Darji. According to a police statement, Darji fled on icy roads with two children in the vehicle. In a March pursuit of Michael John Sebjornson, police records indicate a passenger in Sebjornson’s car begged him to stop.

Two patrol cars—one in Grand Forks and the other in East Grand Forks—were damaged by suspects, according to the reports. One person involved in a chase died of injuries sustained in a crash that occurred moments after police called off the pursuit.

Tony James Smith, 33, of Grand Forks crashed his vehicle into a tree near downtown. According to an incident report, Smith fled from officers at approximately 5 a.m. Aug. 2 after a patrol car tried to stop him for expired license plates. Speeds reached 90 mph, and Smith was driving between 59 and 69 mph when he crashed, according to estimates in the report. He died at the scene.

Smith’s death was the first time in a decade that someone died in Grand Forks after an attempted traffic stop. Two people were killed in 2010 after a suspect fled from UND Police and crashed his vehicle into another car.

Other deaths have occurred in the region. A Cavalier, N.D., woman died last year in Pembina County after fleeing deputies and state troopers. A Fargo man succumbed to injuries in 2016 after fleeing state troopers in Cass County.

It’s hard to account for the increase in chases or know why suspects flee, Zimmel said. Police may never know why Smith fled, though officers said they could smell alcohol on his breath when they were performing CPR, and they discovered what appeared to be marijuana on his person, according to the police report.

“Why do people run?” Zimmel asked. “It can be personal, that particular person just doesn’t like police. It could be they have something in the car or on their person that they don’t want us to be in contact with.

“It could be anything. It could be just because they think they can get away with it.”

By the numbers

An official breakdown of 2018’s Grand Forks pursuit numbers likely won’t be finalized until at least the end of February, but the Herald’s analysis showed six vehicles stopped voluntarily, eight crashed or got stuck, two suspects fled on foot after exiting the vehicle and five were either cornered by police, stopped after specialized police maneuvers or were incapacitated with spiked strips. Three drivers escaped and were never found.

Two reports were redacted since the chases involved juveniles or the cases are still active. North Dakota law excludes the names of children and summaries from active cases from open record, preventing the information from being released.

The numbers are not official like those found in assessment reports from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Of the 85 chases the Police Department reported in Grand Forks from 2011 through 2017, 14 resulted in crashes and nine people were injured, including one officer and one third-party person, both in 2012.

The increase in total pursuits is not unique to Grand Forks. Across the Red River, the East Grand Forks Police Department recorded eight pursuits in 2018 as of Dec. 21, the most it has seen in a decade, according to figures obtained through the agency. That was up from five in 2017, but all other years recorded three or fewer pursuits.

The records may not be complete, East Grand Forks Chief Mike Hedlund said, but the preliminary numbers show pursuits in his city produced five injuries and no deaths since 2009.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol had 65 pursuits last year, down from a 10-year high of 94 in 2017 but up from the decade average of 57, according to numbers provided to the Herald.

Two Highway Patrol-related chases in the past three years ended with fatal crashes. On April 28, the Pembina County Sheriff’s Department tried to stop Dena M. Peterson, 45, of Cavalier, N.D., the evening of April 28 for reckless driving. The high-speed chase ended around 8 p.m. near Cavalier with a rollover crash that resulted in her death, according to a news release from the Highway Patrol.

In 2016, Dennis Dean Herr, 63, of Fargo died after he crashed into a bridge rail.

Zimmel called last year’s count for Grand Forks “a significant outlier, when compared to pursuits occurring over the previous 10 years.”

“There is an undeniable upward trend in the number of pursuits, and we are mindful of that trend in ongoing training efforts,” he said.

Officers involved

According to the Herald’s analysis, no single Grand Forks officer initiated an usually high number of chases in 2018. Officers Adam Solar, Daniel Essig and Andrew Ebertowski each initiated three chase-related stops last year, the most by any officer in 2018.

Essig was involved in the most chases, being listed in six police reports. Officers Christopher Brown, Mark Nichols, Solar and Ebertowski each were involved in five. Involvement, however, can mean many things in a police report, ranging from supervisors monitoring the situation from afar, officers joining the chase later or others coming to the scene to assist once the pursuit is over.

Sometimes, public property is damaged.

For example, officers in Grand Forks tried to stop Brent Joseph LaFontaine, 32, of Rolla, N.D., in March for several traffic violations, but the chase was called off after LaFontaine crossed over into East Grand Forks, according to a police report. He crashed into an East Grand Forks Police Department vehicle shortly after that, ending the pursuit, the report said.

LaFontaine later pleaded guilty to charges related to the pursuit, which exceeded 100 mph. The news release said “a motor vehicle crash occurred,” but the release did not give details on the crash. The release also did not note that a police cruiser was damaged.

When asked why that information was not included in the release, Zimmel said his police department “will not typically speak on another agency’s actions or investigation.”

In another instance, Grand Forks Police did declare a patrol vehicle was hit by another suspect in November. Cory Will Hanson, who fled after he failed to stop at a red light, hit a patrol car before colliding with a resident’s porch and fleeing on foot.

‘Reasonable suspicion’

Officers can stop a vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion a person broke the law. The range of reasons for initiating a traffic stop are numerous, from basic traffic violations to suspicion of a stolen vehicle.

“We have to have a reason to flip on the overhead lights,” Zimmel said. “When we flip on the overhead lights, our expectation is that someone is going to pull over to the side of the road in a safe manor and wait for contact with us. Sometimes, they don’t.”

The North Dakota Highway Patrol has had a blend of reasons to initiate stops that resulted in pursuits in recent years, said Sgt. Ryan Panasuk, who has served in the Grand Forks region for 11 years.

“Usually, it is a routine traffic violation or a suspected DUI,” he said.

Last year’s list in Grand Forks produced a number of charges, or possible reasons, suspects fled. Driving under suspension accusations were the most common charges brought against drivers involved in a chase; nearly half of the reports cited that charge. The number excludes resulting chase-related charges of fleeing, reckless driving and reckless endangerment.

DUI arrests also were common in the 2018 count for Grand Forks—seven chase suspects went to court for that reason last year.

Officers have to make a decision whether to pursue a fleeing vehicle based on various factors—weather conditions, seriousness of the violation, familiarity with the area, availability of other officers, etc.

“Officers are placed in a difficult situation,” Zimmel said. “While the stop itself may have been initiated for a simple traffic violation, why is such a violation so threatening to the violator that they are compelled to initiate a pursuit? Is there a likelihood that there is far more going on regarding the incident than was initially known? What is the true threat posed regarding pursuing as opposed to not pursuing?”

Zimmel stresses officers don’t start pursuits. It is the driver’s decision to stop or lead officers on a chase.

“I think that’s an important distinction,” he said. “Law enforcement isn’t the one initiating the pursuit. The violators are the ones initiating the pursuit.”

Fatal ends

Some circumstances force an officer or supervisor to call off a chase. Deciding whether to terminate a chase is an ongoing process, Zimmel said.

“The conditions can change moment to moment,” he said. “You have to understand that things start moving awful fast, so it’s a very dynamic situation.”

Officers are asked to be mindful of the changing situations as supervisors monitor the pursuits closely in case they need to be called off, Zimmel said. Officers and supervisors can choose to end a chase if the situation becomes too dangerous.

“All personnel are empowered by directive to do so,” he said. “Continuing a pursuit carries a known risk, while discontinuing a pursuit may carry with it an unknown risk. When the known risk outweighs the likely unknown risk, consideration should be given to discontinuing the pursuit, as several were in 2018.”

From 2011 to 2017, the department terminated 19 chases, according the CALEA report. Three chases were terminated last year, and two were canceled due to dangerous conditions, including the chase before Smith’s death, according to the Herald analysis.

In Smith’s case, the chase was terminated due to time of day, lighting, geographical location and danger to the public, according to the police report.

Zimmel is hesitant to say Smith died in a police chase since officers called off the pursuit before he crashed.

“The (death) in 2018 was certainly related to a pursuit, but the pursuit had been terminated prior to the crash,” Zimmel said. “As a result, I’m not sure that incident can be characterized as the driver ‘dying in a police chase.’ ”

That said, Zimmel, who has been with the Grand Forks Police Department for 21 years, said he can’t recall any of his officers being involved in a pursuit in which someone had died.

The Herald could only trace one instance over the last 10 years in Grand Forks when a police chase directly involved a fatality, but that chase was investigated by the UND Police Department. Officers attempted to pull over Celso Garza near Columbia Road and University Avenue after he ran a red light June 5, 2010. He broadsided a car carrying four young adults, two of whom were killed, according to Herald archives. He had been drinking and there was a warrant out for his arrest.

Garza also hit another car during the chase, which reached speeds of nearly 100 mph. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to court documents.

The ones that got away

In 2018, officers also terminated a pursuit in the early morning hours of Nov. 22 at DeMers Avenue and Washington Street due to safety concerns, a police report said. Officers tried to stop the vehicle because of several traffic violations.

At one point, the suspect in the orange convertible Chevrolet Camaro almost hit another vehicle, the report said.

Speeds hit 100 mph before the chase was called off, with officers stating in a police report there were numerous vehicles and pedestrians in the area of the pursuit. Officers never found the suspect who drove the stolen Camaro for about 3 miles, but the vehicle was recovered, the report said.

The third terminated chase was the one that went into East Grand Forks and left the Grand Forks Police Department’s jurisdiction.

Others simply got away. In June, an officer attempted to stop a red car with no rear lights, according to a report. Speeds reached almost 75 mph, and the officer eventually lost track of the vehicle. The suspect was never found.

Suspects don’t always flee in motor vehicles. For example, officers were unable to find a bicyclist who fled Oct. 24 near downtown, one incident report said.

It’s better to terminate a pursuit and let a suspect go when it is too dangerous to proceed, Zimmel said.

“It’s not worth some pedestrian getting struck and killed or rolling a vehicle and a passenger gets injured, a passenger who might have been asking to be let out of the vehicle in the first place,” he said. “Those are far more tragic than if we just let the person go.”

Such was the case for a passenger in the vehicle of Michael John Sebjornson. The 33-year-old from Grand Forks refused to stop for officers during a chase in March, and police used a specialized maneuver to end the pursuit. One of the passengers later said she begged Sebjornson to stop multiple times during the chase. Another passenger had no idea why he was fleeing.

Real life vs. movies

Police pursuits are glorified in television and movies. Zimmel mentioned “The Fast and the Furious,” a multi-movie franchise that features car races and law-enforcement pursuits. He said those scenarios do not reflect what happens in real life.

“There’s a sense that what you see on TV and in the movies is a reflection of real life,” he said. “Huge issues don’t get solved in 45 minutes plus commercial breaks.

“In a pursuit, you’re driving faster than you want to through an area that perhaps you’d rather not be in. You’re having to think about a thousand things at once.”

The latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, a government entity created by the Justice Systems Improvement Act of 1979, said police vehicle pursuits resulted in more than 6,000 fatal crashes from 1996 to 2015, adding up to more than 7,000 pursuit-related deaths. A USA Today analysis from 2015 said more than 5,000 bystanders and passengers died in police car chases since 1979.

Chases are stressful because officers don’t know what they are heading into when they attempt to stop a vehicle, Sheriff Chief Deputy Dave Stromberg said.

In January 2017, Rolette County Deputy Colt Allery and other deputies attempted to stop Melvin Gene Delong, 28, of Belcourt, N.D., in a rural area near Rolette. The chase at times exceeded 80 mph, and when the vehicle finally stopped, Delong fatally shot Allery as the deputy approached the vehicle.

Delong also was killed after officers fired at him.

That incident is in the back of many officers’ minds, Stromberg said.

“Pursuits are very much an unknown,” Stromberg said.

Safety played a key factor in making sure the numerous chases in Grand Forks didn’t end with more injuries or fatalities, Zimmel said, adding the department always considers the well-being of not just the people in the vehicles but the residents in the area of the pursuits.

“I think there is definitely a recognition of the potential hazard there,” said Panasuk, the Highway Patrol sergeant. “If someone is trying to stop you, you just stop.”

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Kansas Law proposes to remove liability for police driving recklessly

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Once again, powerful lobbying groups are simply more concerned with saving money than they are of saving the lives of innocent citizens.  This “problem” could be alleviated if the municipalities adopted significantly more restrictive pursuit policies, increased officer training and introduced new pursuit reduction technology..

 

Bill inspired by high-speed chase in Topeka would remove liability for police

Original story: https://www.cjonline.com/news/20190130/bill-inspired-by-high-speed-chase-in-topeka-would-remove-liability-for-police

Legislation introduced by the Kansas League of Municipalities would strike from state law a requirement for police officers engaged in a high-speed chase to drive with regard for others’ safety.

The proposed change stems from litigation over a 2010 collision in Topeka. A man fleeing an off-duty Capitol Police officer in a stolen car at speeds of 100 mph through city streets crashed into a pickup and seriously injured its two occupants.

district court judge rejected claims contending the officer, Patrick Saleh, didn’t have a valid reason to initiate and continue the high-speed chase. An appellate court reversal pointed to a section of state law that says drivers of emergency vehicles have a duty to consider the safety of everyone.

The case is now before the Kansas Supreme Court.

Amanda Stanley, general counsel for the League of Kansas Municipalities, said the case sparked discussion about state law and whether police pursuits merit an exception. The league wants to remove the obligation to drive with a due regard for safety.

“A law enforcement officer’s pursuit of fleeing offenders is inherent in the officer’s duty to protect the public and often involves split-second decisions that are easy to second guess in retrospect,” Stanley said.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee hearing testimony this week about House Bill 2065 pointed out that, as it stands, the law doesn’t distinguish between police and other operators of emergency vehicles. The same standards appear to apply to ambulance drivers, volunteer firefighters and possibly funeral procession guides.

Rep. Russ Jennings, R-Lakin, said the law also seems to apply to other police activity, such as an officer responding to a distress call or bank robbery.

“It’s crazy to have a cop going out here 100 mph inside the City of Topeka limits,” he said. “That would be pretty foolish and reckless.”

Facts of the situation need to be considered, he said. David Morantz, a Kansas City attorney whose firm worked on the case in question, recommended that lawmakers wait for the high court to issue a ruling before they reconfigure state law.

“This bill is either a very subtle way to completely change the law in Kansas and immunize law enforcement officers from even the most reckless conduct,” Morantz said, “or it’s a bill that the proponents and sponsors of it simply don’t understand.”

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The Heartbreak is Real

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Heartbreak

by Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change
February 10, 2019

 

I’ve been feeling really sad for the past few days. Flashbacks to the most horrible time in my life.

On Friday night I received an email from the parents of a young man killed just three days earlier. His death was the result of yet another unnecessary police pursuit for a crime other than a violent felony.

Dear PursuitForChange,

Three days ago we had 1 son, (our only child ) that was a healthy 27 year old man. He had a beautiful girlfriend who was a healthy young 25 year old woman. Our lives changed on the morning of Feb. 6th, 2019 at 2:17 AM at the corner of Mineral Ave. and Santa Fe Highway 85 in Littleton, CO when both of them were killed by a habitual criminal.

This occurred while she (fleeing driver) was being pursued by the Douglas County Sheriffs in a high speed chase, over many miles, at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. It ended with a 100 mile per hour t-bone collision killing 2 beautiful young people starting their adult lives.

At this time my wife and I are and will be for a very long time numb inside. We wake up at night and all is well till that next second when we remember that we no longer have a son.

This should never have happened to anyone, ever. Thank you for listening and hope to hear more about Pursuit for change.

Sincerely,

Parents of Ryan Carter

In addition to Ryan’s parents losing their only son, the parents of Ryan’s girlfriend will now have this unimaginable sorrow, because their daughter was also killed.

Two young souls. Two beautiful people with so much to offer the world. Two individuals who should have had many, many more years to live their lives.

Now what? Two sets of parents who must bury their kids. Two families who will never share another birthday with them; or another Christmas; or a special wedding; or perhaps a grandchild who will never be born…

Please, please trust me when I tell you that the pain of these realizations is crushing. And although time will, hopefully, lessen Ryan and Jayne’s parents’ suffering, a deep sorrow and mind-numbing heartbreak has now become part of their “new normal”.

Ryan & Jayne. Photo from Denver7 News

Ryan & Jayne. Photo from Denver7 News

My heart aches for these parents, because, in flashbacks like it was only yesterday, I too lived this nightmare.

Every day I read of another innocent bystander needlessly dying. And every day I’m reminded that my son is gone.  And until many, many more of you become truly outraged and insist that pursuit policies and laws be strengthened, there will always be another Ryan and Jayne and Paul.

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Opinion: Milwaukee Gambles with Citizen and Officer Lives

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Opinion: Milwaukee Gambles with Citizen and Officer Lives

by Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change
December 10, 2018

On Thursday, December 6, the Milwaukee Police Department announced that carjackings were down and @Fox6Now Milwaukee  reported that “police credit change in pursuit policy for dramatic decrease in carjackings.”  This is a story about the City of Milwaukee and their quest to reduce joyriding and stolen vehicles. It is an honorable mission, but they are using a very deadly battle plan.

In this recent story, please note this critical statistic. “In 2017, there were 386 pursuits. As of Dec. 6, 2018, there had been more than 800.”  MPD is on its way to over 900 pursuits this year. That means officers and innocent citizens will have been placed in harm’s way +500 times more in 2018 than in 2017.

That ought to scare anyone who lives in or near the city or ever visits Milwaukee. These stats mean there will be, on average, EIGHTEEN chases per week.

There are other glaring omissions in this news story.

First, as I understand the previous MPD vehicular pursuit policy, in place before the MFPC mandated now-retired Chief Flynn to weaken it, that policy specifically permitted pursuits for carjacked vehicles because carjacking is a crime of violence. Therefore, to assert that pursuits for traffic violations impact the number of carjackings is false.

Second, it’s critical to understand there is no causal relationship between increased pursuits for misdemeanor traffic violation and non-violent felonies and any reduction in carjackings (which are violent felonies).

Third, well before MPD’s pursuit policy was weakened, carjackings were on a downward track. From 2015-2017, carjackings went down 21% and from 2016 to 2017, the reduction was 12%. *

Finally, and of greatest importance, we have already forgotten about those who were killed and injured in these 2018 chases. It seems like personal tragedies end up as so much collateral damage, forgotten before the wreckage is cleaned from the street.

But I will not forget. Ever. It’s personal. Here are just a few of the horrible outcomes that these 2018 increased police chases have caused in Milwaukee. Note that the first three of these, each with the death of an officer or innocent, were pursuits as the result of non-violent felonies and traffic violations.

Milwaukee police officer killed, another injured in squad car crash.  STORY HERE
Reason for pursuit – “reckless operation violation” and not a violent crime.
A Milwaukee police officer was killed Thursday and a fellow officer was injured when their squad car crashed while chasing another vehicle, authorities said. The death of Officer Charles Irvine Jr., 23, was confirmed during an evening news conference by Milwaukee police Chief Alfonso Morales.

Innocent citizen killed by driver fleeing police.  STORY HERE
Reason for pursuit – “reckless operation violation” and not a violent crime.
A 65-year-old woman, who was the front passenger of the Hyundai, suffered fatal injuries during the accident. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office has identified her as Sylvia Tiwari. “She was like a mother, a mentor, a pastor. When they took her, they definitely took a part of me,” said a co-worker of Tiwari.
Debris in the road belonged to the car that was carrying Tawari and her daughter Latrece Hughes, now in critical condition.

‘This was horrific:’ 1 dead, 2 seriously injured after police pursuit ends in crash.  STORY HERE
Reason for pursuit – “reckless operation violation” and not a violent crime.
A police pursuit on Milwaukee’s south side led to a deadly rollover crash. One person died and a 20-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman, were seriously injured during the accident. They were both taken to a hospital for medical care.

3 in custody after police pursuit, crash involving taxi in Milwaukee.  STORY HERE
Reason for pursuit – “reckless operation violation”. Pursuing officers were unaware of possible earlier criminal activity.  
A high-speed pursuit with Milwaukee police ended in a violent crash near 27th and Hadley. The fleeing driver crashed into a taxi. Three people in the taxi were taken to the hospital.

There are more stories, more unsuspecting citizens and more courageous officers who will be caught up in the insanity of Milwaukee’s increased pursuits of non-violent felony offenders. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit group that has long tracked officer fatalities, published that “over the past 20 years, traffic-related incidents have been the number one cause of officer fatalities.” And sadly, as of 2018 Officer Irvine is a member of that group.

Milwaukee can do better – just ask other cities that invested in training and technology to reduce deaths and injuries related to pursuits. And as I said in an August 31, 2018 article, Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council have approved funding  for additional technology tools to be used by MPD. Yet nothing has been done with those funds.

Until saner minds prevail, I will most certainly be reporting more of Milwaukee’s police chase deaths and serious injuries and the lawsuits that will follow.

*Office of Management Analysis & Planning, Milwaukee Police Department, 12/29/2017


Click for Milwaukee’s Fox 6 News report.  ORIGINAL STORY or ORIGINAL VIDEO

‘No one deserves it:’ Police credit change in pursuit policy for dramatic decrease in carjackings

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Police Department announced on Thursday, Dec. 6 a decrease in carjackings within the city. Police credited a change in the pursuit policy — with officers going after stolen cars and reckless drivers more often.

In 2017, there were 386 pursuits. As of Dec. 6, 2018, there had been more than 800.

Bianca Williams

“Some people thought they were just joyriding. Like, I could just ride around,” said Bianca Williams, Stop the Stollies.

Williams said there are carjackers in her family.

“Some of them got jail time,” said Williams.

That’s why Williams started “Stop the Stollies,” a campaign aimed at educating young people about the seriousness of stealing cars.

“Some of them get the (GPS) bracelet and really learned the hard way,” said Williams.

Michael Brunson

For those who end up losing control and crashing, the reality is even more harsh.

“So many young folks are losing their lives and others are losing their lives behind this senseless crime,” Williams said.

Milwaukee police said they are starting to see success in curbing carjackings. Police said public education, police patrols and investigation are helping.

“To go after those individuals who are prone and have committed these types of crimes in the past — so what we do is, we collaborate and focus on these individuals in order to interdict and capture them soon after we commit these crimes or turn into a spree,” said Assistant Chief Michael Brunson, Milwaukee Police Department.

Police said if you look at November carjackings for the past three years, they are down 59 percent. Since 2015, the average has been 56 a year. In November 2018, there were 23.

Steve Caballero

“Trying to hold kids more accountable. Again, it’s a good working relationship between the police department, our Criminal Investigation Bureau, our patrol people at the children’s center, the district attorney’s office — holding kids accountable for their actions,” said Assistant Chief Steve Caballero, Milwaukee Police Department.

One of the biggest factors in the decrease, according to police, is the fact that carjackers are getting the message that the police pursuit police has changed. Police do chase stolen cars and reckless drivers.

“God knows it’s been really hard, especially with the older population. They’ve been assaulted and different things. No one deserves that. Younger, older, no one deserves it,” said Williams.

Police said the community has been an important piece of the effort –and they do follow up on your tips.

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Another Birthday

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November 2, 2018

By Jon Farris
Today is the 12th birthday remembrance without Paul in our world. He would have been 35 today.
You may think that as each year passes these “special days” get easier for us. You’d be wrong.
Here’s a link to thoughts from Paul’s 33rd birthday. They’re appropriate today, and for the remainder of my time on earth…

http://pursuitforchange.org/voices-of-victims/10-birthdays/

Paul Farris & Rio, three weeks before the police chase that took his life.

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An Unexpected Opinion? Violent Felony Pursuits

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An Unexpected Opinion? Violent Felony Pursuits

by Jon Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

Typically when you hear me speak, or you read stories in which I’ve been quoted, I discuss why law enforcement had better options than a dangerous pursuit. And there definitely are options. Purchase, implementation and usage of pursuit reduction technology tools (see PursuitResponse.org); significantly more pursuit driving training; stricter emergency vehicle operations requirements and pursuit driving policies. And the list goes on.

To that end, PFC continues to actively support law enforcement in the acquisition of technology tools and with officer safety training (@Below100).

Given that +90% of pursuits begin as the result of a misdemeanor traffic infraction or a property crime, it’s understandable why Pursuit For Change gets so many calls from media when innocent citizens are injured or killed in dangerous chases. And these calls happen frequently because someone is killed every day as the direct result of a police pursuit.

Every once in a while, however, I’m asked about a pursuit which began as the result of a violent felony. Josh Solomon, a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) called me several days ago and we had a long conversation about pursuits in general and specifically about the chase detailed in his story, included below.

In a nutshell, some bad person tried to force a woman into his vehicle. A nearby citizen called 911 and reported the assault.

The sheriff’s department responded immediately and a pursuit of the vehicle began. As you read the article you’ll learn that the fleeing driver lost control, crossed a median, and struck an innocent driver. Luckily the innocent victims survived the crash.

There are some questions surrounding the 911 call, all explained in the article. We’ll certainly learn more about the 911 Center’s follow-up communications as the investigation continues, but regardless I’m not entirely sure the pursuit could have been stopped quickly enough to prevent the crash.

Law enforcement officers have a tough job; one that requires risk assessment and often, immediate and decisive actions. LEOs need tools (strong policies; constant training; command support; etc.). We hire these folks to protect us from those willing to cause harm. I know there are way too many unnecessary chases but in many (most?) violent felony situations, we need law enforcement to do whatever is necessary to apprehend the criminal. Indeed, in these circumstances innocent citizens can be put at risk; but the need to remove these violent offenders from the street will almost always outweigh the need to break off a pursuit or to not pursue in the first place.

Josh asked me if I thought the chase was justified. My opinion? This was a violent abduction attempt. When the deputies arrived, everyone assumed the woman was in that fleeing vehicle. And even though the pursuit put the victim at risk, not pursuing likely would have placed her in even greater peril. So in this violent felony situation, with what was known at the time of first police contact, a pursuit was certainly justified.


Original post:
https://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/A-high-speed-chase-A-deadly-crash-Did-Pasco-deputies-get-the-right-info-_172773944

911 Audio Here:
https://youtu.be/IYsaFz21YLU

A high-speed chase. A deadly crash. Did Pasco deputies get the right info?

Two days after a suspect died while leading deputies on a high-speed pursuit, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco stood in front of reporters and praised the “heroism” of his deputies for trying to save a kidnapped woman trapped inside the fleeing car.

The woman, though, wasn’t in the car.

Just 28 seconds after the Oct. 13 pursuit started, her voice can be heard in the 911 call made from a gas station.

That crucial information never made it to deputies.

They continued the 2½-minute pursuit on State Road 54 until the fleeing driver crossed the median and drove into oncoming traffic, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. The incident ended in a fiery head-on collision with an oncoming pickup truck. The suspect died. The pickup driver was seriously injured.

This latest incident underscores the dangers of high-speed pursuits, a risky law enforcement tactic that has drawn scrutiny across the county. High-speed pursuits have resulted in death and injury, prompting local agencies to restrict when officers can chase a suspect.

But what happens when those officers aren’t getting the most accurate information possible? In this case, Pasco deputies were in the dark about one critical element: There was no kidnapping victim to rescue.

Why wasn’t that relayed to the pursuing deputies? Would it have made a difference?

• • •

The recording of the 911 call, and the notes taken by the call-taker, detail what preceded the vehicle pursuit.

The caller, whose name was not made public, told the call-taker that at about 8:45 p.m. a woman, later identified as Melissa Mary Russo, 44, mouthed the words “help me” to him at the Circle K gas station at 17565 S.R. 54. She was with a man who was later identified as Michael Blomberg, 54.

“Something’s not right,” the caller said.

Then the situation escalated. Blomberg tried to force the woman into a black car, the caller told 911.

“He’s got her in a … headlock, it looks like,” the caller said. “He’s got her in a bear hug right now.”

Then the caller said the man drove away in a gray Chrysler 200 sedan. Deputies dispatched to the gas station started chasing the fleeing car.

A beat later, a female voice appears on the tape of the 911 call.

“Sir, is that the female with you?” the call-taker asked.

She was. The woman had escaped Blomberg’s car and run to the caller. This was 28 seconds after the event log shows the pursuit started.

“FEM WITH CALR,” the 911 call-taker wrote. “CALR HAS FEM IN HIS VEH.” CALR is the man who called 911. FEM is for the woman.

• • •

Here’s what happens when someone calls 911 in Pasco County: Call-takers type notes as they gather information from callers, such as the location and nature of emergencies.

The call-taker’s notes appear on the computer screens of dispatchers and deputies (via their vehicle laptops.) The dispatcher also speaks to deputies over the radio.

This setup allows one person to gather information from the caller while another focuses on sending the right kind of help: officers, firefighters or paramedics.

As deputies raced to the gas station, the recorded radio transmissions reveal the dispatcher briefing them en route using the call-taker’s notes: A woman mouthed “help me.” Her assailant put her in a headlock. He tried to force her into a car. The Chrysler was driving off.

Sheriff’s cruisers, lights and sirens blaring, quickly found the fleeing car.

Blomberg did not stop.

• • •

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office policy that governs pursuits first explains how dangerous they can be:

“Vehicle pursuits conducted by law enforcement personnel often present a significant risk of danger to the safety of the general public, the deputies involved, and the occupants of the fleeing vehicle. National studies have determined that most vehicle pursuit operations conducted by law enforcement are usually short in duration and often result in a crash.”

Therefore, the policy states, Pasco deputies are not allowed to engage in pursuits unless they determine that allowing the suspect to escape is a greater danger to the public than the pursuit itself.

The Pinellas and Hillsborough Sheriff’s Offices and the Clearwater and Tampa Police Departments spell out under what circumstances their officers can chase a fleeing suspect. All involve a list of violent felonies that would justify a high-speed chase.

But in Tampa Bay law enforcement, the Pasco sheriff’s policy is the most permissive, according to Jon Farris, whose advocacy group Pursuit for Change aims to reduce unnecessary police chases. He started it after his son was killed in a taxicab struck by a driver fleeing police in 2007.

Still, the chase policies in Clearwater, Hillsborough, Pasco and Tampa would all have justified a high-speed pursuit in the Pasco case because it involved a possible kidnapping.

“This one was a unique case,” Farris said of the Blomberg pursuit.

Based on what the deputies knew at the time, he said, the Oct. 13 pursuit was justified. But what if deputies had that missing piece of information?

• • •

As the 911 call-taker typed into the computer system that the woman was at the gas station, deputies were already chasing after the Chrysler.

The pursuit headed west on State Road 54. Deputies stayed in constant radio contact with dispatchers.

“Not stopping,” a deputy reported over the radio. “Speed 60.”

A dispatcher asks if the deputies can tell if a woman is in the car. They said they couldn’t. No one in dispatch, according to the radio recordings, told the deputies that the woman was back at the gas station.

During those frantic 2½-minutes, deputies tried to puncture the fleeing car’s tires by laying “Stop Sticks” — tire-deflating spikes — onto the roadway.

Two deputies pursued the Chrysler, and each one’s body camera captured how it ended: The car crossed the highway’s median, driving west into eastbound traffic. Then, just east of Gunn Highway, the Chrysler struck an oncoming pick-up truck head-on.

Deputies dragged Bloomberg from the wreckage and tried to revive him. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. The body cameras showed deputies searching the backseat of the Chrysler for the kidnapping victim.

The pickup driver, Kirby Sober, 24, suffered burns and a severe leg injury, according to family attorney Hunter Higdon. Sober must now use a wheelchair. Doctors expect he will be able to walk again after a long recovery.

• • •

The dispatch center is under Pasco County government. County spokeswoman Tambrey Laine would not say if the deputies should have been told that the woman they were trying to rescue was not in the car.

Farris, though, said the information officers receive during a high-speed chase is critical because it determines whether the chase should continue.

“Typically when there is a pursuit the officers or deputies are being monitored by a supervisor who is involved in (making) the call of whether there’s a need to break it off,” he said.

But in this case, he said, “there’s what would appear to be a breakdown in communication.”

Laine said the dispatcher handled the Oct. 13 incident according to protocol. The dispatcher relays information to deputies until they arrive. Then the roles reverse and deputies start informing the dispatcher, she wrote in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times:

“As soon as deputies are engaged, communications begin to flow the other way, with the deputies communicating via radio from the scene to the dispatcher, who enters those notes into our computer system. The focus at this point is on the information the deputy, as a trained first responder, is relaying to the dispatcher.”

But Doll said that even if the pursuing deputies were told there was no kidnapping victim trapped in the fleeing vehicle, they may have still continued the pursuit. They would still have to confirm there was no one in danger.

“We just can’t take somebody’s word over the phone that it’s fact,” he said.

Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or jsolomon@tampabay.com. Follow @ByJoshSolomon.

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More Milwaukee-Area Pursuits

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Yet another area stolen car this time in very dangerous weather conditions and residential areas. And we’re sure the owner’s company will be incredibly unhappy that the stolen car was totaled.

Please, it’s time to stop pursuing stolen cars and try other options.

 

VIDEO and ORIGINAL ARTICLE:
https://www.wisn.com/article/stolen-car-leads-to-police-chase-rollover-crash/23556817

Stolen car leads to police chase, rollover crash

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Officers Suspended for Bad Pursuit

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Thanks Chief. A difficult decision, I’m sure. But necessary to change the culture and to save bystander and officer lives.

Original Article here: http://www.tampabay.com/news/pinellas/clearwater/clearwater-cops-suspended-for-unauthorized-car-chase-20180926/

Clearwater cops suspended for unauthorized car chase

by Kathryn Varn (@kathrynvarn)

CLEARWATER — Police Chief Dan Slaughter suspended two officers and a detective after an internal investigation found an unauthorized car chase led to a crash that hurt an officer and two civilians.

Det. Frederick Lise, who led the pursuit after a stolen car drove away from a traffic stop in Largo, got 10 days suspension for violating two policies related to operating department vehicles and insubordination and candor. He will also be removed from the agency’s Special Enforcement Unit.

Officers Langston Woodie and Jesse Myers, the latter of whom was hurt in the crash at Rosery Road and Clearwater-Largo Road, were handed five days of suspension for violating the agency’s operating department vehicles policy. Woodie will also be removed from the Community Problem Response Team.

“We are sorry that a civilian got hurt. We’re concerned that our own employee got hurt,” Slaughter said. “We recognize we’ve made some errors here that we’re responsible for.”

The officers and detective could not be reached for comment.

One of the injured civilians, Zoe Applegate, declined to comment through her St. Petersburg lawyer, Sean McQuaid. But McQuaid said Applegate, 20, broke her wrist and underwent emergency wrist surgery at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. She also had multiple broken ribs and head and neck injuries. Her 2015 Chevy Cruze was totaled, he said.

“It was an extremely serious accident,” McQuaid said. “They had a green light and the officer just went right through the stoplight … It had to be a traumatic impact and a surprise to her.”

The passenger in her car, William Gamble, could not be reached for comment. His lawyer did not return a call requesting comment.

According to the internal investigation, a woman reported that her black Ford Expedition had been stolen at 9:25 p.m. May 29 from the Ross Norton Recreation Complex on S Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. About 23 minutes later, Lise, who was hired in 2014, saw the stolen car and started following as it traveled south on Missouri Avenue from Druid Road. Woodie, who was hired in 2016, and Myers, who was hired in 2007, drove up to help. A fourth officer positioned himself down the road to throw tire deflation sticks if needed.

The car pulled into a Wawa on Missouri Avenue just north of Rosery Road in Largo, according to the investigation. The officers tried to conduct a traffic stop, but the Expedition got away and pulled out of the Wawa.

What they should have done at that point, Slaughter said, was stop following the car, head back to the city and notify Largo police. Under Clearwater police policy, typically only violent felonies warrant a pursuit. A stolen car does not.

“It’s tough to do. I’ll admit it,” the chief said. “You get in this profession to try to catch bad guys, so as a police officer it’s very difficult to turn around and go the other direction, but it’s for good reason that this policy exists.”

Instead, the officers chased the car west on Rosery Road and through a red light at the intersection of Clearwater-Largo Road. None had their lights and sirens on — another problem, had the pursuit been authorized to begin with, Slaughter said.

“Even if a person had a misunderstanding on what he could or couldn’t do, there’s no excuse for not utilizing lights and sirens when following a vehicle like that,” the chief said.

Lise, Woodie and the driver of the stolen car made it through. Myers collided with Applegate’s car, heading south on Clearwater-Largo Road, in the intersection. His last recorded speed before the crash was 42 mph.A bystander told investigators he ran up to Myers’ car and started pounding on the door. The officer wasn’t responsive at first. When he came to, his first instinct was to check on the civilians in the other car and his police dog, Axe.

Applegate and Gamble were taken to Bayfront. Myers was treated at Morton Plant Hospital. Axe was checked out and cleared at an animal hospital.

Meanwhile, Lise and Woodie continued after the stolen car until it stopped at 18th Street SW and 10th Avenue SW. The occupants got out of the car and ran away. A suspect was later arrested after investigators found DNA and fingerprints linking him to the car.

All three officers said in interviews with investigators that they believe they violated the pursuit policy. Lise, who is also a member of a multi-department habitual offender monitoring task force, got an additional 5-day suspension because he didn’t keep his supervisors in both the task force and Clearwater police fully informed on what was happening.

It put the other two officers, knowing Lise was in the task force with other supervisors, “in a little bit of a quandary,” Slaughter said.

Times senior researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or kvarn@tampabay.com. Follow @kathrynvarn.

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High speed chases in Lebanon County lead to dangerous crashes

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High-speed chases in Lebanon County lead to dangerous crashes

LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS DEFEND POLICIES FOR PURSUING THOSE WHO WON’T STOP

ORIGINAL STORY CAN BE VIEWED HERE: https://goo.gl/btwP6Q

The driver of a Nissan Sentra didn’t have his headlights on during rainy weather on Nov. 16, 2016, so North Cornwall Township Patrolman Joseph Fischer pulled over driver Marvin Rosa for what he probably thought was a routine traffic stop.

But when Fischer approached, Rosa started driving again, this time with a vengeance, according to Fischer’s written testimony of events. He blew stop signs and red lights and drove 55 miles per hour on 16th Street before stopping again for Fischer, who was in pursuit, on Strawberry Alley at Center Street.

More: Man wanted in York County leads state police on chase on I-81 in Union Township

More: Myerstown man leads troopers on high-speed chase through Jackson Township: police

Then, while driving on Royal Road, he braked suddenly, causing Fisher’s patrol vehicle to rear-end his Sentra. That crash finally disabled Rosa’s vehicle, after which he fled on foot until police arrested him.

He later pleaded guilty to fleeing or attempting to elude an officer, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and a multitude of traffic violations.

Rosa is not the only person to throw caution to the wind and attempt to get away from Lebanon County police.

Police charged 59 people with attempting to flee or elude an officer in Lebanon County from 2014-16, almost all of them trying to escape in vehicles that police were pulling over  and usually for a traffic violation. Some chases ended in fiery crashes, the death of the violator, injuries to unrelated drivers, and close calls for officers.

“Police pursuits are inherently dangerous,” said Cpl. Adam Reed, a state police spokesman.

Yet local police insist there are times when the benefits outweigh the risk.

James Cole of Lehigh County crashed into a house at 1444 N. 7th Street after leading North Lebanon Township police on a high speed chase.

How often are people hurt or injured in car chases?

According to data compiled by state police, more than 200 people were injured in Pennsylvania police pursuits in 2016.
(Photo: By Daniel Walmer)

Only three people died as a result of police chases in Pennsylvania in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, according to a report compiled by state police. The report is based on information that municipal police departments are required to provide annually.

However, there were more than 800 crashes causing more than 200 injuries during chases, according to the report. There was also more than $1 million in damage to property belonging to innocent bystanders and $824,000 in damage to police vehicles.

In 2017, a person who tried to outrun police in Lebanon County died as a result. Brandon Small, 25, attempted to flee Lebanon Police but hit an electrical pole and died from injuries sustained in the crash, according to information provided by police.

More: Man killed in police chase accident in North Lebanon

How frequently do dangerous chases occur in Lebanon County?

Here are just a few of the cases from 2016 detailed in Lebanon County court records:

  • James Cole attempted to outrun North Lebanon Township police at 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2016 in a Nissan Altima after being stopped for going 53 miles per hour in a 35 mile-per-hour zone, according to an affidavit of probable cause from Sergeant Timothy Knight. During the ensuing chase, he drove through multiple yards and a farmer’s field, drove at a police vehicle and just missed, and blew a stop sign, Knight wrote. Eventually, he lost control and crashed into a house on North Seventh Street. “The vehicle started a fire and we had to get the occupant out of the house,” Knight wrote.
  • Shane Petry drove a sports car through a fire police barricade, causing the fire policewoman to call police. He pulled over. When asked by North Lebanon Township Patrolman Gregory Behney for his license Petry “said ‘sure’ and reached toward his shifter and then hit the gas and started driving away at a high speed.” The chase ended as he was driving north on North Eighth Avenue, went through the Lehman Street red light, and hit a vehicle that was attempting to turn left form Lehman Street onto North Eighth Avenue. The woman driving that car appeared to be injured, Behney wrote.
  • Motorcyclist Victor Roman fled Lebanon police by driving on a sidewalk and on the opposite side of the road, forcing motorists and cyclists to bail.
  • Motorcyclist Adam Conway drove against traffic for about a mile on Route 22 and drove more than 50 miles per hour in a 25 mile-per-hour zone in Jonestown with pedestrians around.
  • Brandon Beatty hit two state police vehicles with his Subaru after driving more than 120 miles per hour on Route 22 and Route 743.

To be sure, not every case in which a person is charged for fleeing or eluding an officer is as dramatic. Gus Valmas faced the charge after failing to pull over in 2015, but police said he never exceeded 35 miles per hour during the pursuit.

Yet dangerous chases have also occurred more recently. In February, Harrisburg resident Francisco Rivera-Vazquez drove 115 miles per hour on Interstate 81 in Lebanon County while passing cars on the shoulder during a chase, according to police. In August, Myerstown resident Michael Richard Brown fled police and drove 88 miles per hour in a 15 mile-per-hour zone on West Mckinley Avenue in Jackson Township, police said.

Still, almost all drivers pull over when they see the flashing lights.

North Londonderry Township police have only been involved in seven pursuits since 2004, according to Police Chief Kevin Snyder. North Cornwall Township only averages 1-2 pursuits per year, Chief John Leahy said.

“Some (officers) can go their entire career without a vehicle pursuit, which is absolutely fine with me,” he said.

How do police decide whether to pursue?

Leahy said determining whether or not to chase a fleeing driver boils down to one basic rule: “when the risk to the general public outweighs what you are (pursuing) the person for, the chase needs to be terminated.”

Yet there are a multitude of factors that officers are trained to consider, local police chiefs said, including traffic volumes, the weather, likelihood of pedestrians in the area, and whether the officer has been able to get a license plate number.

“You’re going to make your decision in a matter of milliseconds,” Leahy said.

The nature of the violation that caused the officer to pull over the vehicle in the first place is also important.

“If it’s a suspected summary offense, the risk outweighs the benefits, so there’s other ways of pursuing that,” North Lebanon Township Police Chief Harold Easter said. “But if it’s a high-profile case, then everything is bumped up and we assume some more risk in order to get that person stopped, because if we (don’t) get them stopped, they might be killing somebody down the road.”

Yet even according to data self-reported by police departments, more than half of 2016 Pennsylvania police chases began with an attempt to pull someone over for a traffic violation and only 13 percent were due to felonies. Almost all of the pursuits in Lebanon County checked by the Lebanon Daily News began with traffic violations.

Pursuit For Change Chief Advocate Jonathan Farris would like to see chases limited to violent felons. Farris started Pursuit of Change after his son, Paul Farris, was killed while riding in a taxi that was struck by a motorist who was fleeing police.

“I do believe that no simple misdemeanor is worth putting law enforcement officers or bystanders at risk,” Farris wrote in an email. “It’s different if the police are chasing an active shooter, a carjacker, a rapist, etc. But no one will ever convince me that the death of my son and the driver of the taxi he was in should have occurred because of an insanely dangerous pursuit after a man who simply made an illegal u-turn and then ran because he didn’t have a valid license. But sadly, these sorts of senseless deaths continue to occur across the US every week and day.”

What are the official policies of Lebanon County police departments?

The Lebanon Daily News was unable to learn the details of various police pursuit policies in Lebanon County because state law mandates that such policies “shall be confidential and shall not be made available to general public.”

More: Police find drugs, gun and man on drugs in traffic stop

According to Snyder, the policies are something that “obviously don’t want the criminal element to know.”

Yet the “vast majority” of states, counties and cities nationwide will release their pursuit policies to the media when requested, Farris said.

“It seems silly to me that PA legislators mandated this,” he wrote.

Leahy said each officer is aware of the policies and procedures in effect and can be subject to disciplinary measures if those procedures aren’t followed.

How do police stop a fleeing vehicle?

In many cases, the technology for stopping someone who has fled has not changed much in the past decade. Aside from simply following, the most popular technique for many departments, including North Lebanon and North Londonderry, is using spikes that deflate the tires of the vehicle, causing it to eventually stop.

State police are trained to use the PIT maneuver, in which the officer intentionally makes contact with the side of the fleeing vehicle in such a way that the tires skid and spin out, according to Reed.

North Lebanon does not perform PIT maneuvers because of the danger involved and the significant training required to perform it safely, Easter said. Leahy said North Cornwall would not rule out ending the chase by making contact with the vehicle if circumstances justified it, such as pursuit of a violent felon whose freedom the officer believes puts the public at risk.

Farris would like to see better proactive pursuit training by law enforcement, as well as grants to help police departments use safer, newer technologies. One example: Star Chase, which enables officers to place a tracking device on a fleeing vehicle.

More: Blotter: Police chase man across three counties

Will the driver get caught?

People who choose to flee are panicked, often because they have a suspended license, have an outstanding warrant, or are afraid of what the officer will find in the car, police said – but it’s still almost always a bad idea.

“Statistically speaking, it’s very rare that a person gets away and is not apprehended,” Reed said.

Across Pennsylvania, just 14 percent of fleeing vehicles successfully eluded police in 2016, according to the state police report.

Officers also warned that you even if you outrun a police vehicle, police can identify you through your license plate information. When you are apprehended, you’ll be looking at a possible felony and jail term, and almost certainly a worse sentence than you would have received for just pulling over.

Even after a chase starts, a person will be treated more favorably by law enforcement and the courts if they quickly end the chase, Easter said.

“They need to rethink it real fast and pull over, and if they’re driving under suspension, without a license – take your lumps,” he said. “It’s better than getting involved in an accident and killing themselves or somebody else.”

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Police not to blame for pursuit deaths (New Zealand)

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Original video from The AM Show from Newshub.  Worth your time to watch.

http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2018/03/police-say-they-re-not-to-blame-for-pursuit-deaths.html

There are deadly #PoliceChase deaths across the world. This is a well done segment by the hosts of The AM Show at Newshub in New Zealand. @NewshubNZ @TheAMShowNZ.  Looking for solutions / options and not tossing out blame.  #PursuitReductionTech and more driving training WILL help @Pursuit4Change @PursuitResponse

 

Police not to blame for pursuit deaths – union

12/03/2018
Dan Satherley

Between October 2016 and September last year, seven deaths and 552 crashes were recorded out of around 3600 pursuits.

The Police Association says police aren’t to blame for the deaths of three people in a pursuit that ended in a crash on Sunday.

Around 5:40am, police tried to stop a car in Richmond, south of Nelson. A six-kilometre chase ended in tragedy when the fleeing vehicle crossed the centre line, crashing into a vehicle coming the other way.

“You never overtake on the top of Burke’s Bank because you can’t see what’s on the other side,” Tasman District Mayor Richard Kempthorne told The AM Show on Monday.

Two of the dead were in the fleeing vehicle, the third a member of the public. Police Association president Chris Cahill told The AM Show police can’t be held responsible for the deaths.

“It isn’t the police chasing that’s causing these deaths – it’s the manner of the driving and the people failing to stop. They are the people responsible – not the police officers.”

The tragedy has renewed discussion on whether the rules around police pursuits should be tightened, or if they should be abandoned altogether.

Between October 2016 and September last year, seven deaths and 552 crashes were recorded out of around 3600 pursuits.

Det Insp Cahill said the existing rules are “very strict”.

“When a pursuit or fleeing driver incident starts, you immediately have to call through to the communications centre. They take control of the decision-making – you explain the conditions on the road, the speed, the amount of traffic, also that the reason the fleeing driver has taken off in the first place. “The communicator in the comms centre is the decision-maker as to whether that continues or not.

“It takes it away from the police officer in the car who may get tunnel vision, who may have the adrenalin rush going on.”

Police have continually update the comms person on what’s happening. They wouldn’t back a ban on pursuits without “considerable research” first, but doubt it would work.

Det Insp Cahill says Queensland’s restrictive rules on pursuits have resulted in “a lot of young people racing around all over the show, thinking they can get away with it”.

“Do you really think it would be safe just to let people drive on the roads at any speed they want, as drunk as they want, and the police are just going to wave them by? I don’t think the public would let that happen.”

And previous experiments in New Zealand haven’t worked either, he says.

“They started driving the wrong way down the motorway, things like that, ramming into police vehicles, knowing the police would stop. We need to be really careful thinking a ban would be all our answers.”

Det Insp Cahill says penalties need to be increased for drivers who fail to stop.

“If you’re drink driving and you know you’re going to get no further penalty if you fail to stop, what’s the incentive to stop? You need to know if you don’t stop your car is going to be taken… you’re going to face terms of imprisonment.”

Mr Kempthorne says he backs the police, saying the blame lies with those fleeing.

“I don’t want to be disrespectful for any family or friends involved, but we’ve got to be really aware some driver behaviour on the road is really bad.”

National Party leader Simon Bridges said he’s interested to see the evidence on police chases, and is interested in what other jurisdictions have tried.

“Instinctively, I’m with the police. I don’t think you can have a situation, it would be really bad if they can’t actually make sure that people stop when they’re pursuing them. People should stop,” he told The AM Show.

“If you say police should never do this, what happens then? Does that mean everyone thinks, ‘Well, I’m not stopping. I’m gonna keep on going.'”

The road toll so far this year stands at 77 – nine more than at the same point in 2016, which was a much deadlier year on the roads than 2015.

Newshub.

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Raleigh family hopes teen daughter’s death changes high-speed police pursuit policies

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PFC Chief Advocate, Jonathan Farris, speaks with the news.

A terrific story by WNCN reporter and anchor, . @WNCN

Raleigh family hopes teen daughter’s death changes high-speed police pursuit policies

Original story and VIDEO 


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – They’re eye-catching, dramatic and unexpected – high-speed chases between criminals and police.

But it’s the people caught in the middle – such as Erieyana Holloway from Raleigh – that’s bringing a sharper focus to the risks these pursuits create when the rubber meets the road.

“I miss her so much,” Sherry Holloway-Burks said in a hushed voice, shaking her head with her eyes closed and a tear-streaked face.

Erieyana Holloway

For Holloway-Burks, it’s a pain no parent ever wants to feel – the loss of a child.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her,” Holloway-Burks said.

On the night of Feb. 23, her 14-year-old daughter Erieyana left her after-school program, caught a ride home to do her homework, but never made it.

Authorities say a car fleeing from Garner police struck her van.

Police say they had stopped the driver of that car, 18-year-old Kawme McGregory, for speeding, but he sped off as officers approached. They gave chase through Garner and eventually lost sight him.

RELATED: 2 killed in Raleigh crash during police chase that began in Garner

Down the road in Raleigh, they found the van Erieyana was riding in on its side, and McGregory’s wrecked sedan nearby.

McGregory’s passenger, 25-year-old Shaday Taylor, lost her life, as did Erieyana.

“I can’t believe she’s not here,” Holloway-Burks said with a heavy sigh.

“One person a day dies in a police pursuit,” Jonathan Farris said when he learned about the deadly crash.

Farris is with “Pursuit for Change,” a national police pursuit victims’ advocacy group. It focuses on policy, legislation, technology and training to save innocent civilian and police lives.

He knows Holloway-Burks’ pain all too well.

“Ten years ago, my son was killed,” Farris said. “It was the result of a pursuit that occurred after an illegal U-turn.

“The driver failed to stop for the officer and they pursued.”

Both of these cases point to the biggest change Farris’ group aims to make when it comes to police chases – stop using them for lesser crimes.

“Today, about 90 percent of pursuits are [for a] non-violent felony,” Farris said. “The majority are misdemeanors, traffic violations or something of that sort.”

Farris travels the country providing training to law enforcement to help guide their decision-making process of when to pursue. He also points to technology, such as GPS tracking “darts” and OnStar services that can disable a car, as alternatives to high-speed pursuits.

He says federal grants are available for that technology, and he thinks that’s more cost-effective in the long run, especially considering lawsuits against police departments brought on by grieving families.

“Sadly, that’s what we see most often,” Farris said. “There’s some event, typically tragic, [where] someone is either grievously hurt or someone is killed or a lawsuit is filed before the changes occur.”

“It’s not fair that she’s not here,” Eriel Holloway said with tears streaming down her face. “She should be here with us.”

Eriel is Erieyana’s twin sister. When she spoke with CBS North Carolina’s evening anchor Sean Maroney, she had just turned 15 years old.

“It’s not the same,” Eriel said, wiping away the tears that continued to flow freely. “Each year on our birthday we used to eat cake together, to celebrate together.

“Now it’s just me all by myself.”

“Mothers need to embrace their children,” Holloway-Burks said, sitting near her remaining twin daughter. “Hug them and kiss them every day.”

“When they walk out that door,” Holloway-Burks gestured to the front door, her voice breaking and tears starting to flow again, “they’re not guaranteed to walk back through it.

“It’s not promised.”

Erieyana’s family has enlisted the services of an attorney. CBS North Carolina reached out to Garner police, and they didn’t want to go on camera or comment on this case, citing “a recent pursuit that still may go to litigation.”

However, they did send CBS North Carolina a copy of their vehicle pursuit policy, as did Raleigh and Durham’s police departments and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

After a change to their policy this summer, the Highway Patrol now restricts state troopers from pursuing a vehicle in a chase if the fleeing car is traveling more than 55 miles per hour and the suspect did not commit a felony.

Read the vehicle pursuit policies here:

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Revised MPD pursuit policy now in effect

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Excellent story by reporter Evan Kruegel at Milwaukee’s CBS 58.

            Original story here
 
Milwaukee Police officers now have the authority to chase vehicles driving recklessly or involved in mobile drug dealing. Those revisions to the department’s pursuit policy went into effect Friday September 22nd.

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission ordered those changes back in July, after a majority of Common Council members wrote a letter asking them to explore changes. According to those alderman, drivers were fleeing police with no fear of being chased, due to tight restrictions. Before the revisions, officers could only pursue violent felons, and cars involved in violent crimes.

Earlier this month, Alderman Bob Donovan called the new policy “a step in the right direction.”

Crash Victims

A number of local families however, aren’t seeing it that way. In late 2009, four innocent people were killed in police pursuits in Milwaukee, prompting Chief Ed Flynn to restrict the chase policy.

Jonathan Farris runs “Pursuit for Change”, a Madison-based group advocating for stricter chase policies. Farris’ son Paul was killed in 2007, when a car fleeing from police slammed into a taxi he was taking in Boston.

“At that point I started researching police pursuits, because it didn’t make sense that they went and chased some guy who made an illegal U-turn.”  The new Milwaukee policy won’t allow pursuits for that, but could make way for pursuits involving speeding cars, or cars running red lights.

“There’s an extremely high likelihood that in the not-so-distant future, somebody in Milwaukee is going to be injured or killed because of a pursuit that occurred because of these changes.”

Farris is advocating for more federal and state money to fund things like “starchase”, which attaches a GPS dart to fleeing cars. Milwaukee Police have this technology, but it’s unclear how often it’s being used.

In a statement Friday, the Fire and Police Commission said it will be closely monitoring the results of the new policy, saying “police pursuits should be a last resort, not a first.”

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Why MFPC Wants More Police Pursuits

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It is my personal opinion that this is a case of a Commission ceding to City Alders’ pressure. Departmental micromanagement by MFPC and a forced weakening of a strong policy, such as currently mandated, will most certainly result in more deaths of innocent Milwaukee citizens.  -Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

Here is the link for Jon Farris’ comments to the MFPC in July. http://www.pursuitforchange.org/advocacy/statement-for-the-milwaukee-fire-police-commission/

 

 

 

 

 

ORIGINAL OP ED: http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2017/08/23/op-ed-why-fpc-wants-more-police-pursuits/
We seek to work cooperatively with police chief while responding to community concerns.
By – Aug 23rd, 2017 11:23 am

Why FPC Wants More Police Pursuits

The opinion of Matthew Flynn in the August 18th Op Ed in this publication, while a valuable contribution to the pursuit policy debate, nonetheless rests on some fundamental mischaracterizations which should be corrected in order for the public to have an honest understanding of the directive recently issued by the Fire and Police Commission.

He begins be stating that “the MPD would be required to continue high speed pursuits of automobiles under some circumstances.” This is false. The directive does not require police pursuit in any circumstance, it instead allows pursuit in certain additional specific circumstances. Current policy language already affords the involved officers discretion when deciding whether or not to pursue and our directive does not demand any change to this discretion.

Many people, including Mr. Flynn, attempt to infer that our directive demands that drivers would be pursued for traffic offenses. While the reason an officer might attempt to pull a vehicle over could likely indeed be a traffic offense, the reason a pursuit might be initiated is because the subject driver is fleeing from a lawful traffic stop at high speeds. The act of fleeing can be a violent felony, and it is the driver of the fleeing vehiclewho is using reckless deadly force by fleeing dangerously at high speed, and it is the driver of the fleeing vehicle who is endangering the public. Furthermore, the reactive pursuit action by law enforcement in these situations is clearly and unambiguously justified by the US Supreme Court majority opinion in Scott v. Harris. Despite this wide legal latitude, the directive keeps in place the existing overarching theme of restriction to the practice and only broadens the existing pursuable offenses modestly and reasonably to include mobile drug dealing, fleeing from police multiple times, and excessively reckless driving.

It is true when the author states “There are many methods and technologies to arrest drivers later, even drivers of stolen cars.” The Fire and Police Commission fully supports and encourages the use of alternative methods for apprehending fleeing drivers. This is why our directive also calls for a follow-up report from the MPD which we hope will show progress in the department’s efforts in non-pursuit follow up. The FPC was forced to ask for such a report on non-pursuits precisely because of the unsatisfactory findings in our commission’s research report on the topic.

Finally, the claim is that replacing Chief Flynn with another police chief will result in an increase of deadly force by MPD is offensive to the professionalism of our police force. The author presents no evidence to support this claim nor does the directive have anything to do with Chief Flynn personally. The FPC is fulfilling its duty to work collaboratively with the Chief to make Milwaukee’s policing more effective. The FPC was in place well before Chief Flynn was hired and he was well aware of the board’s authority when he accepted the position; Wisconsin State Statute Chapter 62.50 clearly states that the board may prescribe general policies and standards for the departments.

As a diverse group of Milwaukee residents acting as the citizens’ voice in fire and police matters, we take this responsibility seriously and are committed to the goal of reducing crime, fear and disorder in our city. The citizen board members of the FPC have heard the undeniable voice of the citizens of the city who have been begging our body to help the police department make our streets safer, and we have acted with a measured and common sense response.

Steven M. DeVougas was appointed to the Board in September 2013, elected Chair in July, 2015 and re-elected Chair in July, 2016. His term expires in 2018. Mr. DeVougas received his Juris Doctor from Marquette University Law School in 2007. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in 2004, with degrees in Economics and English. He is Past-President of the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers and has been named “40 under 40” by the Milwaukee Business Journal.

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Highway Patrol mum on deadly US 23/74 wreck report

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By Kimberly King

http://wlos.com/news/local/highway-patrol-mum-on-deadly-us-2374-wreck-report

Highway Patrol mum on deadly US 23/74 wreck report

The latest report on a deadly Haywood County wreck involving a North Carolina State Trooper is drawing strong reactions from many News 13 viewers. The report said Trooper Hunter Hooper was traveling 115 mph just moments before he crashed into an RV that was making a legal U-turn on US 23/74. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff/NCHP)

 

Highway Patrol says Hooper as doing a “traffic enforcement action” at the time of the July 25 wreck.

One big unanswered question remains about the collision that killed a Florida couple — Who was the trooper trying to stop?

News 13 has asked repeatedly since the crash and has not received an answer.

The Highway Patrol collision report shows a diagram of the wreck and says that the RV, designated as “vehicle 1,” failed to yield the right of way and traveled into the path of “vehicle 2,” which was Trooper Hooper.

The driver of the RV and his wife, Robert and Esther Nelson, died in the wreck.

Highway Patrol has not responded to News 13’s question if the agency has speed policies in place for traffic pursuits.

Jonathan Farris is the founder of Pursuit for Change, which aims to raise awareness about the dangers of high-speed traffic pursuits. Farris said he lost his son Paul in 2007 during a high-speed pursuit that involved a Boston area trooper.

“This is so very similar to stories that happen across the U.S.,” Farris told News 13.

With knowledge of the Haywood County crash, Farris gave this statistic:

“It’s mind-boggling that this continues to happen over and over again because the vast majority, as much as 90 percent, of these pursuits occur as a result of a misdemeanor traffic violation,” he said.

Farris said many high-speed police crashes end in costly litigation for police agencies involved.

Highway Patrol has told News 13 the SBI and the reconstruction team are still investigating this case.

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Preserving Our Memories

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May the memories of our children remain forever…

Jack Phoenix, a.k.a. SAKE, was the victim of a hit and run in 2015. He was crossing Venice Blvd at 8:30 pm on a Sunday night. Police were chasing a stolen car at high speed. There were no lights, no sirens. “TO SERVE AND PROTECT”. He was only fifteen. He would have been sixteen a month later on Christmas Eve.

Visit the SakeForever site to read about Jack and his family’s story
https://sakeforever.com/pages/about-us

Father Nick Phoenix, speaks about the death of his teenage son, Jack, who was struck and killed by a stolen car that was fleeing the police in 2015.
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/91242034-132.html

This is a horrible and unnecessary story, repeated with frightening regularity across the US.  In this case, Jack’s family has engaged to keep Jack’s dream alive.

Those of us who have lost a loved one in a #PoliceChase are connected in a way that we never imagined possible. It’s important that we remain resolute and strong.

I hope that Sake’s family and friends are able to find inner peace while remembering all that was wonderful about him. 

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Managing High-Speed Pursuits

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Please see the original article located at Police Magazine
http://www.policemag.com/channel/vehicles/articles/2017/06/managing-high-speed-pursuits.aspx

Managing High-Speed Pursuits

By Samuel Kirchhoff

High-speed police pursuits can be deadly for police officers, innocent bystanders, and suspects. A 2015 USA Today article reports that from 1979 to 2013, 139 police officers were killed during or as a result of high-speed pursuits. During that same time frame, more than 5,000 passengers and bystanders were inadvertently killed due to high-speed police chases, and tens of thousands of people were injured. Suspects also endangered themselves by choosing to run from the law. USA Today says 6,300 suspects died in high-speed pursuits during the time frame of its research. It’s no wonder that in 1990, the Justice Department called police chases “the most dangerous of all ordinary police activities.”

To reduce the dangers of high-speed vehicle pursuits, law enforcement agencies need to understand the causes of high-speed pursuits, the legal issues involved, the problems behind such pursuits, and the strategies for reducing high-speed pursuits.

Worth the Risk?

In California, only 5% of high speed pursuits were an attempt to catch someone suspected of committing a violent crime; the majority of the pursuits started for a minor traffic or vehicle infraction. In 1998, a study funded by the Justice Department revealed that the most common violation for suspects who caused high-speed pursuits was car theft. The second most common offense was having a suspended license, and the third was avoiding arrest.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn believes that the risks involved with high-speed pursuits do not justify the rewards. In an interview for that 2015 USA Today article Flynn said, “Overwhelmingly, someone is fleeing because they’ve got a minor warrant, their car isn’t insured, they’ve had too much to drink…the sanctions imposed by courts nationwide for merely stealing a car don’t justify anybody taking any risk.”

James Vaughn is the chief instructor at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy Driver Instructor Course. In 2004, he showed his class of officers a video of a police chase that ultimately ended with the fleeing vehicle being rammed by a police cruiser, leading the passenger and her child to be ejected. The driver’s offense was possessing a small amount of crack. Vaughn asked if a suspect could be shot for possessing a small amount of crack and equated the two events. Vaughn says that many officers “perceive a fleeing suspect as something personal.” He goes on to say that thankfully, “there has been an evolution of the profession through better training and better policies.”

The Courts and Pursuits

Vaughn’s lecture raises the subject of the legality of vehicle pursuits as a use of force and the liability that can result from their consequences. It has been reported that vehicle pursuits are the second greatest source of awards and judgments against law enforcement agencies.

The constitutionality of high-speed pursuits has come under scrutiny in recent decades, focusing on what the courts sometimes view as a “disproportionate use of force.” In the 1973 case Johnson v. Glick, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals published a test to determine whether police used excessive force. This test has four aspects: 1) the need for the force, 2) the relationship between the need and the amount of force used, 3) the extent of the injury, and 4) the officer’s motives. An action that does not pass this test is a violation of the suspect’s 4th and 14th Amendment rights.

The Glick test was used in 1985 during the ruling on Tennessee v. Garner, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that established officers cannot legally kill unarmed persons just because they are running away from the officers. In its ruling, the Court noted that the need to catch Garner, who was suspected of burglary, did not outweigh the suspect’s life because he did not pose a considerable threat to society even though he committed a felony.

In 1989, the Supreme Court again made a decision regarding disproportionate force, this time with regard to non-lethal force. In Graham v. Connor, the Supreme Court used both the Johnson v. Glick and the Tennessee v. Garner opinions to determine that force should be proportionate to the danger posed by the subject, the seriousness of the offense, and the harm in failing to capture the subject.

Pursuit Policies

Since high-speed pursuits are so dangerous, why are they so prevalent? Perhaps the frequency of high-speed pursuits is due in part to the Broken Window Theory, which George Kelling and James Wilson discussed in their article titled “Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety.” This theory posits that uncontrolled minor crimes leave room for major crime to slowly creep into the community.

A 2008 study titled “Police Pursuits in an Age of Innovation and Reform” by the International Association of Chiefs of Police found that 91% of all high-speed pursuits begin with the suspects committing “non-violent” crimes. Departments have implemented vehicle pursuit policies to deter crime, building the (more or less accurate) perception that fleeing the police in a vehicle, even after a non-violent crime, will result in being caught and facing serious consequences.

On the other hand, the Milwaukee Police Department has instituted a no-pursuit policy if the suspect did not commit a violent felony. Alderman Bob Donovan, a member of the Public Safety Committee in Milwaukee said during a TV interview, “We’ve seen a significant level of disorder as a result of this policy,” and that the city’s no pursuit policy is “fueling crime across Milwaukee.” Critics like Donovan claim that because criminals are becoming aware that these “no pursuit policies” are in place, they think they are more likely to be able to get away with small crimes. The data supports this argument. Motor vehicle thefts, in which Milwaukee police are instructed not to engage in high-speed pursuits, increased from 12 per day in 2013 to 18 per day in 2014. Chief Flynn told USA Today, “These kids were finding out, well, nothing happens to me. They had the prestige of being cool to their friends, the thrill of the danger and no consequences.”
This is the conundrum facing law enforcement agencies. How can they reduce the number of high-speed pursuits while still maintaining departmental integrity so that justice is enforced equally and thoroughly?

Pursuit Strategies

When it comes to reducing high-speed pursuits, there are various strategies that a law enforcement agency can employ in order to maintain an effective response plan. There are pluses and minuses for each. If a department changes the policy to instruct officers to never pursue fleeing suspects in vehicles, problems with consistent enforcement may arise. On the other hand, high-speed pursuits can be extremely costly, both in terms of people killed and injured and in terms of lawsuits against the involved agency.

One strategy to curtail unsafe high-speed pursuits is a simple change in policy. In 2010, the Milwaukee Police Department began restricting high-speed pursuits to suspected violent felons. From the period of 2010 to 2014, injuries from high-speed pursuits in Milwaukee dropped. The Florida Highway Patrol adopted a similar policy in 2012. Highway Patrol officers were told to only chase criminals suspected of violent felonies, drunk drivers, and reckless drivers. In 2010 and 2011, high-speed pursuits by the Florida Highway patrol numbered 697. In 2013 and 2014, the number dropped to 374.

Agencies can also increase training on high-speed pursuits. High-speed pursuits can happen so suddenly that officers often have little time to think before they must make critical decisions. In 2007, Florida Highway Patrol sergeants were surveyed and the study found that 80% did not think that patrol officers received an adequate amount of pursuit training. One way that a law enforcement agency can help train its officers for high-speed pursuits is using a pursuit management continuum—a visual chart that shows what level of force should be used for what type of offense.

A pursuit management continuum has three levels for both the suspect’s actions and for the officer’s responses, the Police Policy Studies Council says. For the officer, the levels are Level 1 Control, Level 2 Control, and Level 3 Control. For fleeing suspects, the levels are Level 1 Flight, Level 2 Flight, and Level 3 Flight.

Level 1 Flight is violations such as minor traffic crimes and other low-threat crimes, to which an officer should respond with an action from Level 1 Control, including simple trailing and stationary roadblocks. In this first level, since the threat to the public is not severe, officers can use techniques that are relatively safe for both themselves and the suspects they are trying to stop. If the suspect does not stop, or if a police officer witnesses a more serious offense, then the situation escalates to Level 2, which includes serious traffic offenses and crimes that present a high risk to public safety but do not justify deadly force such as driving while intoxicated. An officer should respond with Level 2 Controls, including rolling roadblocks or controlled deflation devices (spike strips). As officer and suspect action goes up the continuum, the more dangerous the situation is for those involved as well as bystanders. A Level 3 offense would be a life-threatening felony, something that justifies a deadly force response. A Level 3 Control could be ramming the suspects’ car or using firearms. Using Level 3 controls should be reserved for the most egregious offenses in emergency situations.

Officers can also use GPS to track a fleeing vehicle instead of pursuing. One such technology, StarChase, has been deployed at various law enforcement agencies.

The StarChase system includes a control panel installed inside the officer’s vehicle that the officer can use to arm, aim, and fire the system. The launching component holds the GPS trackers and is installed on the front of the officer’s vehicle. When an officer is chasing a fleeing vehicle, he or she can then arm the system, shoot a GPS tracker onto the fleeing vehicle, and terminate the pursuit. Police can then follow up on the vehicle once it is parked to apprehend the suspect.

In a study of 36 agencies, Dr. Geoffrey Alpert of the University of South Carolina found that StarChase was more than 80% successful in leading police to criminals, and that many of the unsuccessful deployments were affected by weather.

Decision Points

  • Since vehicle pursuits pose a danger to police officers and bystanders alike, law enforcement management ideally should develop and implement a policy that identifies management approval at key decision points for the pursuit to begin and continue. Decision Point One: Do the officers have approval to initiate a pursuit? This decision should be made based on the agency’s policy.
  • Decision Point Two: Should the pursuit continue beyond its initial moment? This decision must be made based on the totality of circumstances involved and agency policy. For this decision to be effective a superior must direct the pursuit.
  • Decision Point Three: Should officers from other agencies become involved? The supervisor who is directing the pursuit should maintain communication with other jurisdictions as the pursuit moves into their territory. The primary reason for another agency to become involved is if the initiating agency abandons the pursuit or it needs support.
  • Decision Point Four: What strategies, tactics, or techniques can be used to physically stop the fleeing vehicle? Once again, agency policy, good police management, and legal mandates must guide the decision-making process and any action taken should require command approval.
  • Decision Point Five: Should the pursuit be terminated? This decision may be made at any time, beginning with the request to initiate the pursuit, or any time prior to apprehension of the fleeing vehicle. This decision may be made by the initiating officer or management, but management will have greater objectivity and the expertise to make the most effective decision.

Each of these decisions is best made by management. Officers involved in a pursuit are extremely busy, and they are also feeling a rush of adrenaline. They need guidance commanders who are not participating in the pursuit.

Accountability and Assessment

Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) uses a voluntary reporting system for law enforcement vehicle pursuits. This means that police departments are not required to report all data from pursuits that occur within their jurisdictions. Police departments can opt out, for example, of giving NHTSA an accurate count of officers, bystanders, and suspects injured or killed as a result of high-speed chases. To keep the department accountable, agencies should require that all of their data to be sent to NHTSA, regardless of how it makes the department look. This will pressure the department to actively reduce the number of pursuits and increase safety when pursuits do occur.

The first step in assessing the effectiveness of implemented strategies is to collect data before the changes are put in place. At least a year’s worth of data should be collected so that future data will have a comparative sample. If data is collected only over a couple of months, then the sample size is too small, and it becomes hard to assess the effectiveness of implemented programs.

When looking at pursuit data, simply recording the number of pursuits will not show anything substantive. Even though there will be an expected drop in the number of high-speed pursuits due to officers being instructed to only pursue certain types of offenders, data should still be collected regarding related injuries, fatalities, costs, and the number of pursuits. By collecting all of the different types of data, law enforcement agencies (or the outside sources they hire to analyze the data) can determine whether or not their implemented strategies have been effective.

After the data is analyzed, agencies can adjust their policies and procedures as needed. Once these amended policies are in place, the process must start over with data collection from the new policies. This process should continue until the department is content with the amount of data it has recorded.

High-speed pursuits are a very dangerous task that law enforcement officers sometimes must undertake. Such pursuits are more common than many would assume, and an unfortunate number of them end in crashes resulting either in casualties or fatalities. However, if police agencies understand the causes of high-speed pursuits and how to reduce their likelihood, they will be better prepared to improve officer and bystander safety.

Patrick Oliver served as chief of police for the cities of Fairborn, OH, and Grandview Heights, OH, and as ranger chief of Cleveland Metropolitan Park District. He has significant experience with pursuits, having worked 11 years as a trooper with the Ohio Highway Patrol. Oliver is currently director of the criminal justice program for Cedarville University.

Samuel Kirchhoff is a criminal justice student at Cedarville University.

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