Technology

89 Mile Pursuit in Milwaukee

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I don’t even have words. The total insanity of numerous police dangerously chasing for EIGHTY-NINE MILES is simply unimaginable. And how the officers in this video attempted to (INCORRECTLY) deploy stop sticks show how little or none) training they have. The fact no officer or citizen was killed is a miracle.

https://www.tmj4.com/news/local-news/89-mile-milwaukee-police-chase-exposes-deficiencies-with-stop-sticks-we-need-better-training-with-this

89-mile Milwaukee police chase exposes deficiencies with stop sticks: ‘We need better training with this’

The longest Milwaukee police chase TMJ4 could find in the past 15 years exposes problems with the effectiveness of that critical tactic.
Posted at 6:04 PM, Mar 19, 2024 and last updated 6:19 PM, Mar 19, 2024

 

MILWAUKEE — There are no signs of Milwaukee Police pursuits slowing down. For the last three years, the department has averaged about three chases a day.

The primary tool MPD officers can use to physically force a driver to stop is throwing out stop sticks to deflate their tires. The longest Milwaukee police chase TMJ4 could find in the past 15 years exposes problems with the effectiveness of that critical tactic.

It’s a video Milwaukee police didn’t want to give us. Last August, the department wrongfully denied our open records request, claiming the chase from May 17, 2022, was still under investigation more than a year after it happened. We found out from internal affairs that wasn’t true and just recently received the video.

WATCH VIDEO AND READ MORE HERE

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Washington State – A Decision That Will Kill and Injure Innocent Citizens

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More bad decisions…


Heywood testifies and tense exchanges at hearing on police pursuit initiative

BY: JERRY CORNFIELD

FEBRUARY 28, 2024

Only eight people spoke in the one-hour hearing as Democrats pushed back on supporters’ claims that Initiative 2113 will increase public safety and reduce crime.

 

State lawmakers embarked Wednesday to give police in Washington more leeway to pursue suspected criminals knowing that if they don’t act in the next few days, voters very likely will in November.

A citizen initiative bound for the fall ballot would erase restrictions on when police can engage in vehicle pursuits. Law enforcement groups have said the constraints emboldened criminals and contributed to an increase in crime.

But lawmakers could make the changes themselves by enacting Initiative 2113 before the session ends March 7. They took the first step Wednesday with a hearing in which supporters and opponents disagreed on whether the measure would enhance public safety or put more people at risk.  READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

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San Francisco Chronicle’s AMAZINGLY DETAILED Police Pursuit Series and Expose

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In February of 2024, after more than a year of exhaustive research and data mining, San Francisco Chronicle staff Jennifer Gollan and Susie Neilson‘s police pursuit investigative series was published.

This is by far the most comprehensive national police pursuit series completed since the 2015 USA Today stories.

Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate for Pursuit For Change, is honored to have had the opportunity to support Jennifer and the SF Chronicle team with their reporting.

We highly encourage you to read the complete articles at the San Francisco Chronicle’s website.

“The federal government is significantly undercounting chase deaths. Reporters discovered 662 people who died from 2017 through 2021 but were missing from fatal pursuit data published by NHTSA.”

 

To report “Fast and Fatal,” Chronicle reporters spent a year identifying and examining fatal chases, finding that at least 3,336 people died in pursuits in the U.S. over the six years ending in 2022. They discovered that police pursuits frequently go wrong, killing an average of nearly two people a day in recent years.

Bystanders and passengers are killed with shocking frequency, and the vast majority of chases involve drivers suspected not of violent crimes, but low-level violations.

The investigation, relying on thousands of pages of documents and more than 100 body-worn and dash-camera videos, identified numerous failings that contributed to the carnage. Crucially, there’s no binding national standard governing whether and how police should chase suspects, so officers operate under often permissive rules that vary by department. When people needlessly die or are injured, police officers are rarely held accountable.

Here are five main takeaways from the Chronicle’s investigation:

Despite pledges by law enforcement and lawmakers to reduce deaths and injuries from high-speed pursuits, fatalities have soared. Both 2020 and 2021 became the deadliest on record, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The federal government is significantly undercounting the dead. From 2017 through 2021, NHTSA did not include 662 pursuit deaths identified by the Chronicle in its publicly available chase fatality data, including dozens of cases in which officers deliberately rammed cars while chasing them. Our data shows that nearly 700 people died in 2020 and again in 2021, with more than 500 deaths annually from 2017 through 2019.

Officers routinely start deadly chases that begin with a low-level crime — or no crime at all. Innocent people routinely become collateral damage. The Chronicle examined the circumstances that led police to initiate chases that killed nearly 1,900 people and found that more than 1,550 of them died over traffic infractions, nonviolent crimes or no crime at all. Suspects most often fled for relatively mundane reasons: Their license had been suspended, they were on probation, or they said they feared the police. At least 551 people killed in pursuits from 2017 through 2022 were bystanders, reporters found.

Officers are rarely held accountable, and families struggle to find justice. Even when police officers violate department policy or behave recklessly during fatal pursuits, they typically avoid criminal charges and internal discipline. Under California law, families are limited in their ability to sue police departments involved in fatal chases even if they can prove the pursuing officer violated department policy.

Black people are four times as likely as white people to be killed in police pursuits. As with police shootings and other uses of force, chases disproportionately kill Black Americans. This holds true whether the person is a suspect, a passenger in a fleeing vehicle or a bystander.   READ MORE


Police chases, glamorized in action films, aired in real time by news helicopters and gamified by “Grand Theft Auto,” have long stirred the American imagination. But pursuits like the one that killed the Nievas siblings now claim nearly two lives a day across the country, and public officials are failing at nearly every level to confront the growing problem, a yearlong Chronicle investigation found.

Operating under often permissive rules that vary by department, and with immunity from serious punishment in most cases, officers routinely launch chases that begin with a low-level crime — or no crime whatsoever — and end with a violent wreck. At least 551 bystanders died in chases over six years, the Chronicle found.

The vast collateral damage has spurred a decades-long push for reform, with law enforcement leaders, regulators and politicians repeatedly promising to reduce the carnage caused by high-speed police pursuits. Yet little has changed — except for the mounting death toll. The federal government, meanwhile, does not even track all the deaths.

The Chronicle spent months doing just that, building a database of fatal pursuits from 2017 through 2022 by filing more than 70 public records requests and examining information from research organizations, local news stories and court records.

Reporters merged this data with records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find that at least 3,336 people were killed as a result of police pursuits throughout the U.S. from 2017 through 2022. At least 15 of them were officers. More than 52,600 people were injured from 2017 through 2021, according to government estimates.

“These are completely avoidable deaths,” said Christy Lopez, a Georgetown law professor and former deputy chief in the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. “Police are killing too many people in pursuits for reasons that are entirely unnecessary and it’s ruining lives. Police never have the right to be the judge and executioner.”  READ MORE


 

The federal agency charged with keeping drivers safe is significantly undercounting the number of people killed in police pursuits, skewing the picture of one of the most dangerous law enforcement activities in America.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is widely viewed as the authoritative source for statistics on pursuit-related fatalities. NHTSA’s data is routinely cited in reports by other federal agencies, researchers, media outlets and organizations that make policy recommendations and guide local police departments on when they should initiate chases.

But NHTSA did not record at least 662 people killed in pursuits from 2017 through 2021 in its publicly released count, the Chronicle found in an investigation.

The Chronicle’s analysis sought to include every person killed as a result of a police chase. NHTSA uses a narrower definition, saying it omits cases in which an officer purposely rams a vehicle or, in certain instances, calls off a chase before a crash, among other exclusions. The newspaper, though, also found hundreds of deaths that were missing from the agency’s pursuit data due to gaps in reporting and other unknown reasons.

With additional deaths identified by the Chronicle, the number of people killed in police pursuits is nearly 30% higher than previously known — a total of at least 3,004 individuals over five years. The dead include fleeing drivers, their passengers, bystanders and police officers.

In a statement, NHTSA (commonly pronounced NITS-uh) said its data on fatal police pursuits was not meant to be comprehensive.  READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

 


First-of-its-kind database: Majority of people killed in police chases aren’t the fleeing drivers

An analysis of police pursuit fatality data shows that most of those killed between 2017 and 2022 were passengers or bystanders.

Car chases are one of the most dangerous activities in American policing. But for decades, the federal government has not tracked all deaths tied to pursuits. So the San Francisco Chronicle counted them.

The results are staggering. In our investigation, Fast and Fatal,” which includes the fullest accounting yet of police pursuit deaths, we found that at least 3,336 people were killed in police vehicle pursuits from 2017 through 2022. At least 1,377 people died in 2020 and 2021, the most recent years for which federal data was available — almost two people a day on average.

The Chronicle built a dataset of these deaths using information from three primary sources: the federal government, private research organizations and our own reporting. The resulting figures are still likely undercounts, as not every chase is the subject of a news story or a lawsuit, two sources the Chronicle used to find cases missing from government records.

Reporters spent a year examining a subset of over 2,000 deaths that included additional details about the causes and circumstances of each chase and the people involved. We found that at least 551 people, or more than 25% of those killed, were bystanders. In addition, the vast majority of these pursuits were initiated over traffic violations and nonviolent crimes such as shoplifting, not serious felonies.

Selected statistics are presented here as well as guidance on how to access the Chronicle’s dataset to look for specific cases.

Where police chases killed people

From 2017 through 2022, at least 3,336 people died in police chases.  READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

To build the Chronicle’s national dataset of at least 3,336 people killed in police vehicle pursuits from 2017 through 2022, we used information from three primary sources: the federal government, private research organizations and our reporting.

While no government agency counts every police pursuit death, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration comes closest. We used data published by NHTSA via its Fatality Analysis Reporting system (FARS) to produce a list of people killed in police pursuits recorded by the federal agency. Specifically, we drew from the FARS global person, vehicle and accident files, as well as its auxiliary accident file.

In a separate database, we gathered and analyzed information about pursuit deaths from research organizations Mapping Police ViolenceFatal Encounters and IncarcerNation.com, manually reviewing each row entered by researchers to ensure accuracy. READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE


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City report shows 1 in 5 Milwaukee police chases result in crashes

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A recently released Milwaukee police pursuit study sheds light on some alarming trends in chases.

By Ben Jordan, TMJ4 News

Pleased to have worked with Ben on this story…

City report shows 1 in 5 Milwaukee police chases result in crashes

MILWAUKEE — A recently released Milwaukee police pursuit study sheds light on some alarming trends in chases.

The comprehensive analysis breaks down when and why police pursuits often begin and end. The top thing that sticks out to some of those who have suffered the consequences is how often chases result in crashes.

It’s a polarizing issue in Milwaukee: Whether or not police should chase reckless or mobile drug traffickers.

Those two categories account for about 70 percent of Milwaukee chases. They’ve caused pursuit numbers to skyrocket ever since the Fire and Police Commission forced the policy shift in 2017.

In each of the last three years, M.P.D. has chased more than 1,000 drivers annually.

“My biggest issue with the policy is it’s impossible to police that,” Jonathan Farris said. “What is reckless? Reckless is a legal term, but it’s also a term that you and I have to decide what’s reckless.”

Farris lost his son in a police pursuit more than a decade ago. He was an innocent victim in the back of a taxi.

“Losing a child is just impossible to explain,” he said. “It’s a pain that doesn’t go away.”

Farris has become one of the biggest advocates in the country, calling o law enforcement agencies like M.P.D. to only pursue when there’s an imminent threat of danger such as a violent felony.

“It’s changed my life and it’s gotten me into what can I do to save other people from having to live through this situation,” he said.

READ/WATCH the rest of the story at TMJ4 Milwaukee

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BAD OUTCOMES 2: Monona continues down a dangerous path

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A few weeks ago we wrote about some truly poor decisions made by the Monona City Council (MCC) and the Monona Police Department (MOPD). You can read that article here:  BAD OUTCOMES: Monona’s Poor Decision to Weaken Police Pursuit Policy in 2022 Results in Unnecessary Deaths

We sincerely hoped, after the still-unexplained pursuit that killed three people, Monona would come to its senses and permanently revert to their previous pursuit policy limiting when officers can pursue (e.g. not for misdemeanors or non violent-felony actions).

Sadly, we should have known better…

The taxi in which Paul Farris (PFC Chief Advocate’s son) and Walid Chahine were killed and Katelyn Hoyt was grievously injured. May 27, 2007. Somerville, MA

Monona logged 249 pursuits from 2019 through 2023.

The sheriff’s office, which patrols areas not covered by municipal police departments, participated in the next most, or 213. Madison saw 112 during that same period. Madison.com

So where is MOPD now. Let’s see.

First was the Chief’s interview very soon after the deadly pursuit. His January 5th “statement” is a lesson in dredging for any possible reason to “justify” a weak policy. This is IDENTICAL to statements made by virtually every other agency with equally weak and mismanaged pursuit policies. You can read that @WKOW story here:  ‘The officer was acting lawfully’: Monona Police chief speaks out following fatal pursuit.

Second, as predicted, on January 17th the MOPD announced their decision to reinstate the “open” pursuit policy and let officers pretty much chase for any reason (e.g. just say “reckless” and then it’s OK).  I mean, the DCI hasn’t even finished their investigation of the January 3rd pursuit and deaths, yet MOPD wants to start chasing even more – again???  Yet another BAD DECISION.

In this Madison.com article, Monona moves to reinstate police pursuit policy after fatal New Year’s Day crash, the Chief was quoted:

“He said the decision not to pursue a suspect could result in more danger to the public than if police do try to pull over a vehicle, such as when a driver appears extremely intoxicated. “Reckless driving, drunk driving, drugged driving, dangerous driving kills every day,” he said. “In this country it has taken so many lives.””

So let’s think about this.

If an officer believes a suspect is truly drunk, drugged or impaired in any other manner, why in world would a city allow that officer to CHASE them – at even higher, more dangerous speeds.

That driver is IMPAIRED. Chasing them does not make them less impaired – rather it creates a situation where the likelihood of that impairment causing great bodily harm to others is increased exponentially.  

We should not lay all the blame for poor decisions on the new Chief.  The Monona City Council, and perhaps Alderman Patrick DePula specifically, carry the greatest culpability in allowing such a policy to be reinstated.

The Council will be back in the news, very likely in 2024, when more INNOCENT CITIZENS are killed or maimed in an unnecessary misdemeanor violation police chase. I suspect the city’s insurer may be interested in the history of MOPD’s policies, because the likelihood of a justified, multi-million dollar lawsuit, is imminent under current policies.

Oh, MOPD, did you know that there are technology and driver training tools available designed to PREVENT UNNECESSARY PURSUITS?  Yes, there are.

It breaks my heart that others will also need live with the knowledge that a poorly thought out decision and a misguided pursuit policy took the life of someone they love. I hope it’s not a member of your family or a close friend…

 

And finally.

Just in case you think we’re the only ones who think that MOPD’s pursuit policy is bad, we’re not.  Read the excellent 1/21/2024 WSJ opinion. [Wisconsin State Journal] OUR VIEW: Monona should rethink, tighten policy on police pursuits in wake of triple-fatal crash

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RECKLESS PURSUITS – Kansas City Star 2024 Series

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I’ve had the honor of working with reporter Katie Moore at the Kansas City Star over the past several months. She and Glenn Rice have published the first in a series of eight, relating to out of control police chases in the Kansas City metro area.  This particular article is truly EXCELLENT.  Great detail, heartfelt, and really well written.

I always appreciate the opportunity to support the media and I’m glad to have been involved here.

Jonathan Farris – Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change


Image KC Star

Police chases in KC metro kill bystanders. One department chases more than any other

 

BY KATIE MOORE AND GLENN E. RICE
UPDATED JANUARY 19, 2024 12:13 PM

 

When Jake Monteer was 12, his father let him take his motorcycle for a spin near their home on Spruce Street in Bates City.

Jake climbed on, confident that he could keep it upright. And he was off. In some ways, he never looked back.

Growing up in the small town just east of Kansas City, Jake’s passion for motorcycles only grew. As an adult, he learned how to fix bikes and rode from daylight to dark.

“I think he just liked feeling free,” his father, David Monteer, said.

Jake Monteer was 41 years old last March, when he and a friend hopped on his motorcycle with a pizza to share. They were driving in Independence when a Jeep, fleeing police in a high-speed chase, hit them.

They both died.

“It feels like part of your heart is ripped out,” David Monteer said during an interview with The Star.

As weeks and months passed, he and his wife Terri Monteer learned more about the circumstances of their son’s death. They found out that police were chasing the Jeep because it was stolen and not for a more serious crime. That one of the officers in the chase had been involved in a previous pursuit that left four people dead. And that it was when police laid down stop sticks in front of the Jeep that it lost control and hit their son’s motorcycle.

“Since when is a stolen vehicle worth somebody’s life?” David Monteer said. “That’s my question.” It’s a question other families have asked after previous high-speed pursuits by Independence police that seem to repeat the same pattern again and again.

Read the rest of the story at the Kansas City Star website – HERE

A few stats from their research – also posted in the KC Star article.  Disturbing to say the least:

Police Chase Findings Reporters interviewed local police leaders, national law enforcement experts, academics who study chases and advocates for safer policing. The results of their reporting are being published in an eight-part series.

  • In 2022, more than 1,200 police chases took place in the Kansas City metro, resulting in over 150 crashes and 51 injuries. Independence accounted for 33% of those injuries.
  • The Independence Police Department initiated 330 chases in 2022. Kansas City, which is four times larger in population but has a more restrictive policy governing police chases, recorded 98.
  • Over the past six years, eight people have died in chases involving Independence officers. Six were innocent bystanders, one was a passenger in a fleeing car and one was a fleeing driver.
  • According to a report by the Police Executive Research Forum, 70% of police departments placed narrow restrictions on when a chase is warranted. In the Kansas City metro, the rate is about 56%.
  • Where data was available, 17% of the chases violated department policy.

 

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Sometimes Screams Are Heard

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Sometimes screams aren’t heard.

I suspect that was the case when I received a call at 4:00 AM telling me my son Paul had been killed in a car crash. That was on May 27, 2007, a lifetime ago.

And when, shortly later, I learned that his death was caused because of a totally unnecessary, minor traffic violation police pursuit, my screams increased.

And so came my entrance into the advocacy to change mindsets regarding the necessity of police pursuits for anything other than for violent felonies. I’ve been “screaming” ever since.

Well, sometimes your screams are heard. And sometimes those who hear DO want to help.

Below are links to a recently completed study and comprehensive review of police pursuits. This project was supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number 2020-CK-WX-K035 awarded to the Police Executive Research Forum by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The publication is distributed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the interest of information exchange

So what will become of this report and these excellent recommendations?  I don’t know, but I’ll keep screaming until legislators and law enforcement hears that chasing until the wheels fall off is both stupid and danger, and changes are necessary.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate
Pursuit For Change

@chester_jonah @jennifergollan @andreeball @katie_reports #PursuitForChange @PursuitResponse @StarChaseLLC #PursuitReductionTech @FAACsimulators @PursuitAlert @SpartanTekOrg @OnStar @benjordan3


September 23, 2023

Police pursuit policies should be more restrictive to save lives

By Chuck Wexler, Executive Director, PERF
COMPLETE LETTER IS HERE:
https://www.policeforum.org/trending23sep23

PERF members,

Vehicle pursuits are part of what distinguishes the police from any other occupation. Hollywood has recognized this and featured pursuits in many films. Growing up, I remember watching Gene Hackman commandeer a citizen’s car and take it on a harrowing chase as an NYPD detective in “The French Connection.” But, as you all know, the reality of police pursuits is anything but glamorous.

Earlier this week you received PERF’s new report on pursuits. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatal crashes involving police pursuits kill more than one person every day; 525 people were killed in 2021, and 545 were killed in 2020. According to Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) data from 2009 to 2013, 21 percent of those seriously injured in police pursuits are individuals not involved in the pursuit….

 

…The report contains 65 recommendations across six topics: agency philosophy and policy standards; the role of a supervisor; pursuit interventions, pursuit alternatives, and technology for managing risks; post-pursuit reporting; training; and community engagement. We recommend that agencies only pursue suspects when two conditions are met: (1) a violent crime has been committed and (2) the suspect poses an imminent threat to commit another violent crime. 

The rest of the story:  https://www.policeforum.org/trending23sep23

The Complete Report:  https://portal.cops.usdoj.gov/resourcecenter/content.ashx/cops-r1134-pub.pdf

 

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Milwaukee Police Department’s in the News – and not in a good way.

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And the beat goes on…

Police chases in Milwaukee surge in recent years

I truly appreciate Jonah’s comments in this email:

On Aug 2, 2023, at 6:20 AM, Jonah wrote:
Hi Jonathan,
As promised, here’s a link to the story: 
Thank you again for agreeing to chat with me for the story, your expertise and perspective was extremely valuable.
And a HUGE thank you for alerting me to the flaws in police pursuit reporting data. After our conversation, I began taking a closer look at the injury reports I’d received through my record requests and noticed several missing deadly pursuits. I reached out to the MPD for comment on those, and it turns out they initially gave me a bad batch of data which under-reported third party deaths and injuries and over-reported police injuries. They issued updated and corrected numbers just a few hours before we were set to publish. I probably wouldn’t have caught those flaws if it weren’t for your comments on faulty data.
-Jonah
@chester_jonah @jennifergollan @andreeball @katie_reports #PursuitForChange @PursuitResponse @StarChaseLLC #PursuitReductionTech @FAACsimulators @PursuitAlert @SpartanTekOrg @OnStar

Hot pursuit: Milwaukee police chases now top 1,000 per year. Some prove deadly.

Milwaukee sees a surge in police pursuits in years since loosening policy to target reckless drivers. Critics say the trend makes streets more dangerous.
Reading Time: 10 minutesNews414 is a service journalism collaboration between Wisconsin Watch and Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service that addresses the specific issues, interests, perspectives and information needs identified by residents of central city Milwaukee neighborhoods. Learn more at our website or sign up for our texting service her

  • Correction: A previous version of this story included an incorrect figure for the number of fatal Milwaukee police pursuits in 2023 and incorrect percentages of pursuits ending in injuries from 2007 to 2022.

At 1:06 a.m. on Aug. 1, 2019, Le’Quon McCoy was driving through a North Side Milwaukee intersection when the driver of a stolen Buick Encore ran a flashing red light and crashed into McCoy’s Jeep Renegade.

The speeding driver, who was fleeing police, hit McCoy’s Jeep so hard that it bounced off a tree on one side of the road and into a parked car on the other side. McCoy, 19, died at the scene.

“He got off work around like 9 or 10 at night. He stopped here to see me,” his mother, Antoinette Broomfield recalled.   READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

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Are YOU Ready To Help Save Lives?

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December 1, 2022:  Jon Farris, Chief Advocate of Pursuit For Change, writes about a technology crowdfunding pledge opportunity. Please take a moment to learn about an opportunity that will most certainly lead to fewer policy-pursuit related injuries and deaths.

 

Dear friends,

During the past 15+ years, since the death of my son Paul, I have advocated for stricter policies and smarter laws surrounding police pursuits. Additionally, I have supported companies that have developed pursuit reduction and safety technology tools to reduce chases and help save innocent lives.

Today I’d like to introduce you to one of those companies, PursuitAlert.

Tim Morgan is a cofounder and CEO of Pursuit Alert. Tim has spent nearly forty years working with and for law enforcement, serving twenty-two as a Pickens County SC Assistant Sheriff. I have known Tim since 2016 and I know how committed he is to saving lives.

The PursuitAlert Digital Siren is a patented warning system that allows law enforcement to send real-time, critical messaging to your smartphone when you are near any emergency response including dangerous police pursuits.

WHY am I reaching out today? The PursuitAlert team needs support to expand their system and network. They have recently developed relationships with Waze Maps, Apple Maps, Stelantis passenger vehicles (Chrysler, Jeep) and have just signed an NDA for discussions with Amazon. And even more vehicles and smartphone apps will be added in the near future.

So I’m asking you to consider an investment PLEDGE. This website (https://pursuitalertdigitalsiren.sppx.io/) provides an overview of what the PursuitAlert team is proposing and has planned for the company going forward. This is a “Testing the Waters” pledge. The choice is yours, but I do hope you’ll seriously consider signing up to support PursuitAlert.

Thanks,

Jon

 

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16 Missed Birthdays

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16 Missed Birthdays

By Jon Farris – Paul Farris’ dad and Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

 

Every year on November 2nd I post a note in remembrance of my son, Paul, about the birthday celebrations we’ve missed since his senseless death. This will be the 16th one.

It’s easy for me to remember Paul and the many happy birthdays we spent with family and friends. Some days it seems as though these were only yesterday, but no…

We miss you buddy. So very much.

 

Whenever I need a dose of inner peace, I listen to Paul’s music. You can hear all of Paul’s music at PaulFarris.org/Music.
And here’s Faith in Flight, from theMark‘s album The Catastrophist, with Alec O. playing guitar: https://paulfarris.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/04-Faith-in-Flight.mp3

Paul & Alec. theMark. Tuft’s Spring Fling 2004

 

Paul Farris birthday 1993

Paul 2004

Paul 2003

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Pursuit policy questioned after deaths in I-25 crash

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“Jonathan Farris, an advocate for the nonprofit Pursuit for Change, an organization that pushes for safer police pursuit policies, called the Santa Fe Police Department’s chase policy vague and said it doesn’t give much direction for when an officer should give up on a pursuit.”

Pursuit policy questioned after deaths in I-25 crash

By Sean P. Thomas sthomas@sfnewmexican.com Mar 19, 2022 Updated Mar 20, 2022

Jeannine Jaramillo’s alleged crimes in Santa Fe and Cibola counties within months of each other are strikingly similar: stolen cars, reckless chases and claims of a kidnapper or male aggressor who doesn’t appear to exist.

The outcomes widely differ.

When Jaramillo was suspected of leading Cibola County deputies into oncoming traffic at high speeds in September 2021, they called off the pursuit. They later found the stolen vehicle at a residence and took Jaramillo into custody, according to records of the case.

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE

 


FBI tactical squad members approach a command center March 2 on Interstate 25 near Old Pecos Trail after a Santa Fe police officer and another motorist, a retired firefighter, were killed in a multiple-car crash during a police pursuit.   Jim Weber/New Mexican file photo

UPDATE:

We have asked Mr. Thomas to post one correction. This statement “Farris, whose son Paul Farris was killed in 2007 when a cab he was riding in was struck by a Massachusetts state trooper chasing a driver suspected of a traffic violation…” is incorrect.  In actuality, the cab Paul was riding in was struck by the fleeing driver’s SUV, and not by the Trooper.  An important clarification.

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November 2, 2021

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November 2, 2021
Fifteen Birthdays

Last year I posted a note about Paul’s birthday. It’s so hard to believe that another year has passed us by.  I thought, given the world’s issues, I’d post an updated version of that note.
Peace.  – Jonathan Farris, Dad, Gatekeeper of PaulFarris.org and Chief Advocate of Pursuit For Change

Some of our readers will envision this particular Tuesday as a year after the United States’ most contentious Presidential election. And that contention continues today through lies and hate. Paul would be appalled.

Some of our readers remain anxious about the pandemic and the devastation caused to individuals, families, countries and the world. As of my writing this, 769,299 people have died in the US and over 5,000,000 have died worldwide. Horrible beyond mere words.

But on November 2, 2021 I take a moment to forget the noise, to forget the pandemic, and instead focus on wonderful memories.

Paul Farris was stolen from us in 2007. And 2021 will be the 15th missed birthday. This is unimaginable to me.

We would have mailed or emailed Paul a cute birthday card, texted him a funny greeting and then spoken to him after work. The way it’s supposed to be.

He would be heartbroken that such a horrendous chapter of history continues in 2021. However, I suspect that in addition to being despondent, he’d be engaged doing whatever he could to make a better future for all of us.

Or perhaps he’d just be sitting around drinking beer. We’ll never know…

 

Just like every birthday, and indeed every single day, we miss you immensely.

Paul & theMark early 2000’s

Paul a very long time ago…

adminNovember 2, 2021
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Atlanta City Council To Consider Pursuit Policy Changes

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So so many heartbreaking stories.

City Council committee to consider police pursuit changes

HAYLEY MASON
UPDATED 14 HRS AGO | POSTED ON JUN 28, 2021

ATLANTA (CBS46) — Joi and Doug Partridge will never forget the day they lost their two children Cameron and Layla, and Joi’s mother, Dorothy Wright. Wright was driving her grandchildren to church when she was hit by the driver of a stolen car fleeing from police in 2016 in Southwest Atlanta.

“It really hurts because I lost my parent and my two kids,” Joi Partridge told CBS46’s Hayley Mason.

Read the rest of the story here: https://www.cbs46.com/news/city-council-committee-to-consider-police-pursuit-changes/article_83d4b2cc-d880-11eb-b4ea-fbde3d93bfdc.html

@CBS46

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2021 UPDATE: Milwaukee’s 2017 Incredibly Stupid Decision to Dramatically Increase Dangerous Pursuits Continues to Kill and Maim Innocent Citizens

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2021 UPDATE: Milwaukee’s 2017 Incredibly Stupid Decision to Dramatically Increase Dangerous Pursuits Continues to Kill and Maim Innocent Citizens

by Jon Farris

Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

Let me say this AGAIN.

Milwaukee’s 2017 Incredibly Stupid Decision to Dramatically Increase Dangerous Pursuits Continues to Kill and Maim Innocent Citizens.

Please see Elliot Hughes (@ElliotHughes12) Journal-Sentinel (@JournalSentinel) article at https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2021/06/16/milwaukee-reckless-driving-boy-16-dies-after-stolen-car-crash/5295939001/

Police said officers attempted to stop a stolen vehicle on the 9900 block of West Good Hope Road shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday, but it instead led them on a chase and eventually crossed over into oncoming traffic.
Police said the pursuit was then terminated, but the car continued to drive against traffic and hit another vehicle head-on at 50 to 60 miles an hour

In 2017, against the wishes of then Chief of Police Ed Flynn, the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission MANDATED a WEAKENING of Milwaukee’s good pursuit policy – a policy which SAVED LIVES.  And as a result of that change, Milwaukee’s 2018 pursuits were up 239 percent, (https://pursuitforchange.org/advocacy/an-open-letter-to-milwaukee-police-chief-alfonso-morales-and-the-milwaukee-fire-and-police-commission/) with each of those chases endangering officers and citizens. How could anyone consider that to be a good thing?

Then, sadly as I had warned and predicted in 2017 (https://pursuitforchange.org/advocacy/statement-for-the-milwaukee-fire-police-commission/), one of MPD’s officers was killed in 2018. Officer Charles Irvine died in a pursuit related crash . Officer Irvine was the same age as my son, killed in an unnecessary police pursuit.

Officer Irvine’s death was completely preventable.

But instead, Milwaukee chose to double down and chase even more stolen vehicles, KNOWINGLY ENDANGERING many many citizens each and every time.

So FOUR YEARS after making a truly CRITICAL MISTAKE, Milwaukee continues to endanger, maim and kill citizens while NOT solving anything. Is this incompetence or simply a blatant disregard for the area’s population?

PS:  Oh, I almost forgot. Milwaukee is working on yet more billboards. Just brilliant…

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article above:

“A cadre of city officials announced a new billboard campaign discouraging reckless driving. And they all touched on the troubling problem of people as young as 12 years old stealing cars and using them for joyriding and driving dangerously.”

And from the original campaign: (https://pursuitforchange.org/voices-of-victims/a-father-who-lost-his-innocent-bystander-son-in-a-police-chase-criticizes-milwaukee-billboard-campaign/). It was ineffective then and remains ineffective now.

 

PPS: If you search the News page for Milwaukee posts, you’ll find many, especially in 2017-2019…

admin2021 UPDATE: Milwaukee’s 2017 Incredibly Stupid Decision to Dramatically Increase Dangerous Pursuits Continues to Kill and Maim Innocent Citizens
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Police Pursuit Symposium and WCPO Story

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Hamilton County Police Association (Cincinnati Metro Area) Police Pursuit Symposium / WCPO interview

Jon Farris, Chief Advocate for Pursuit for Change, was a featured presenter at the August 19, 2020 Cincinnati Metro Area Police Pursuit Symposium.

Jon spoke about being a grieving father, a police pursuit victim, an advocate for reducing pursuits, a cheerleader for Pursuit Reduction Technology and a strong supporter of law enforcement. This was an excellent, three-hour symposium with tremendous involvement by over 60 command-level officers from throughout the county. Thanks to Lt. Steve Saunders from the CPD for allowing me to participate.

 

Additionally, Jon was interviewed by Craig Cheatham, Executive Producer/Chief Investigative Reporter of the WCPO 9 I-Team in Cincinnati. Thanks to Craig for this terrific update.

https://www.wcpo.com/news/local-news/i-team/one-police-pursuit-policy-for-44-hamilton-county-departments-victims-dad-hopes-to-convince-agencies

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Pursuits and Technology

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Just remember that in MOST CASES, there ARE OTHER OPTIONS better and safer than chasing!
#PoliceChase #Insurance @PursuitResponse #PursuitForChange #ThereAreOtherOptions #PursuitReductionTech

 

As pursuit numbers climb, Greene County sheriff looks to new technology for an answer

 

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott fell into a routine this summer.

Seemingly every Monday morning, Arnott and his command staff went to the film room to break down the X’s and O’s of another weekend chase involving deputies and a dangerous driver — many of which either made the local news or were broadcast to a national audience on “Live PD.”

Arnott said the sheriff’s office brass reviewed dashboard camera footage, written reports and the rest of the initial evidence to determine if the deputy’s actions were appropriate and what, if anything, could have been done differently.

“We’re doing the Monday morning quarterback thing,” Arnott said.

The number of pursuits involving Greene County deputies has gone up each of the last three years, and the sheriff’s office has engaged in twice as many pursuits as the Springfield Police Department since 2016.

https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/crime/2019/09/05/high-speed-chase-greene-county-sheriff-gps-tracking-device-starchase/2059701001/

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More Milwaukee Police Pursuit-Related News August 2019

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Jon Farris speaks with Anchor/Reporter Katie Crowther (https://buff.ly/2PAzOim) to discuss #PursuitAlert technology and #Milwaukee #PoliceChases. This is a short story that Katie and Jon hope to follow-up on in a future story. #PursuitResponse

 

Creators of new app hope police departments will get on board

Posted: 7:36 PM, Aug 28, 2019
Updated: 7:36 PM, Aug 28, 2019

A father’s plea for change, after losing his son, is now strengthened by new technology on the market.

A safety app was just created with the hope of saving more innocent people from becoming victims in high-speed police chases.

Paul Farris, 23, of Wisconsin died when the taxi he was in was hit during a high-speed chase in Massachusetts. A state trooper was pursuing a driver for a traffic violation. Farris was an innocent victim caught in the wrong place at the wrong time…

READ MORE AND WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:  https://www.tmj4.com/news/local-news/creators-of-new-app-hope-police-departments-will-get-on-board

 

adminMore Milwaukee Police Pursuit-Related News August 2019
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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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Milwaukee’s Out of Control Police Pursuits

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by Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change
May 24, 2019

The following letter was sent to Wisconsin papers today.

To-the-Editor-MFPC-and-MPD-police-chase-policies-05242019.pdf

To the Editor

On Friday, May 17th, Urban Milwaukee published an article highlighting a stolen vehicle police pursuit on North 45th and West Center Street. The fleeing vehicle ultimately rear-ended a taxi cab and crashed. In 2018, after the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (MFPC) 2017 mandate that the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) weaken its nationally recognized pursuit policy, pursuits and these stories have become an everyday occurrence.

The article mentioned that the “City-County Carjacking and Reckless Driving Task Force is set to meet for the first time on Friday, May 17th at City Hall. Among the topics likely to be discussed during that meeting and the Fire and Police Commission meeting were whether there are new police pursuit technologies that could help improve safety.”

Really? This is ironic as both MPD and MFPC are ignoring their previously successful use of GPS tracking technology, a program which MPD ended in 2018. This, along with a now-cancelled contract to purchase more systems, would have saved innocent lives and reduced bystander and officer injuries. These GPS unit purchases are public record, and in fact, Urban Milwaukee covered this issue as well.

In a recent article Are Police Pursuits Out of Control?, written by Bruce Murphy and published on Thursday, April 25th, it stated:

Under (former Milwaukee PD Chief) Flynn the agency adopted new technology developed by a private company called StarChase, whereby police shoot at GPS “bullet” about the size of a soup can that can stick to a fleeing car.
A 2014 MPD 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 MPD’s horrible apprehension rate of 38 percent for 2018’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.

Whereas the StarChase 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 Chief Flynn retired, there has been no discussion of this technology.

 

So I ask you, why are the MFPC and MPD leadership ignoring their own past success with this technology?

Technology alone is not a panacea. An intelligent and measured pursuit policy must balance enforcement with the risk to innocent public and officers. That is not happening under current policy, as tragically both officers and numerous civilians have been and will continue to be killed and injured.

The city has exceeded its $5 million reserve for police settlements and must currently borrow to settle lawsuits. [https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2019/05/14/court-watch-city-will-borrow-for-police-settlement/].  This is after not properly considering or, more likely ignoring risk mitigation strategies (unless one counts the billboard campaign, which was a colossal waste of money).

No one pursuit-related solution will solve Milwaukee’s crime problems. Managing pursuits in the 21st century requires a mix of appropriate policies, extensive officer training and effective use of available tools.

 

I respectfully ask that MFPC explain to taxpayers why they ceased supporting a pursuit reduction program that was working. And as MFPC and MPD consider their mind boggling 940 pursuits, reconsider the fact that effective technology, combined with smarter pursuit driving policies, will help tip MPD’s currently abysmal pursuit statistics back in the direction of saving lives and reducing injuries and property damage.

It’s clear that the current pursuit policy is costing too many lives and emptying city coffers.

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Changing Pursuit Policies – Often After Tragedy

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The Jackson County Sheriff recently enacted a stricter pursuit policy for his department. Terrific!
However, this was after the previous sheriff loosened the policy. Sadly, the negligent actions of a Deputy caused great bodily harm to an innocent citizen.

 

 

ORIGINAL STORY AND VIDEO HERE:  https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/crime/article230034344.html

When is a police chase appropriate? New Jackson County policy spells that out

 

Dashcam video from a May 9, 2018, traffic collision shows a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy run a red light and crash into another vehicle, severely injuring the other driver. The deputy was involved in a pursuit that started with a broken taillight.

 

A Jackson County Sheriff’s policy enacted April 13 expands upon what was in place when a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy crashed into a bystander’s car in 2018.

The new policy provides stricter guidelines for police chases.

It replaces the 2017 police pursuit policy that was suspended by Sheriff Daryl Forté, a former Kansas City Police chief who was elected to his current position last year.

The new policy provides greater detail and changes portions of the former policy to restrict circumstances in which officers can engage in high speed chases.

Both the 2017 and 2019 policies state that when bystanders are present the subject of a pursuit must present a “clear and immediate danger.”

While the 2017 policy does not provide a definition of “clear and immediate danger,” the 2019 policy defines it as “any deliberate or intentional act by the pursued vehicle or occupants that would bring fear of death or serious bodily injury or extreme property damage to either the deputies or citizens.” The policy also states that “clear and immediate danger” cannot exist for minor traffic stops or speeding.

The policy creates guidelines for when an officer must end a pursuit. For instance, officers are directed to end chases once communications are established with a law enforcement helicopter or other aircraft that is able to track the vehicle. Similarly, if a deputy successfully attaches a StarChase tracking device to a car, officers must end the chase.

The 2019 policy also prohibits deputies from engaging in pursuits if their dashcams are not working unless the suspect is armed or be known to have committed a dangerous felony.

The new policy was obtained by the Star through an open records request. The 2017 policy was provided to the Star by Brett T. Burmeister, the attorney for Christopher S. Reed, who was the bystander injured in the 2018 chase.

Reed, 30, was thrown from his car and suffered head injuries, spinal injuries and a broken clavicle when Deputy Sean Stoff, 34, slammed into his car after running a red light without his emergency lights and sirens on.

Stoff turned his lights and sirens off after a StarChase tracker was applied to the car but violated department policy by continuing the pursuit without his lights and sirens on. He was charged with misdemeanor careless and imprudent driving Wednesday.

“Obviously the policy itself is not the main culprit in this case,” Burmeister told the Star in an email. “Rather, it’s the deputy who completely disregarded the policy.”

Forte said in a Facebook post Thursday that he became concerned about the policy last year after he was elected. He clarified in another post Friday that his decision was not prompted by only one incident.

“The restrictive vehicle pursuit policy did not occur solely because of one incident,” Forte said in Friday’s post.

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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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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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An Open Letter to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

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An Open Letter to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

Sent January 4, 2019.

 

Honorable Tom Barrett
Mayor, City of Milwaukee
City Hall
200 E. Wells Street
Room 201
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Dear Mayor Barrett,

On New Year’s Eve yet another Milwaukee police chase ended with the deaths of three – one being a two-year old child. I am beside myself with grief – for that child and for the City of Milwaukee.

How, other than in a totally political environment, could Milwaukee have fallen so very far in such a short time?

On Thursday, December 6, the Milwaukee Police Department announced that carjackings were down. Fox6Now reported that “Police credit change in pursuit policy for dramatic decrease in carjackings.” This is a story about Milwaukee’s quest to reduce joyriding and stolen vehicles. It is an honorable mission, but officials are using a seriously flawed and incredibly deadly battle plan.

Is it not true that carjackings were already declining under the former, safer pursuit policy, because that policy specifically did permit pursuits of carjackers?

Almost all of Milwaukee’s 2018 pursuit-related deaths and many injuries were as a direct result of MPD’s new, weakened policy that permits dangerous high-speed chases for traffic offenses. Yet it would appear that this new policy’s only actual results are many more dangerous chases, more innocent bystander deaths and injuries, and even an officer’s death – virtually all for non-violent felony pursuits.

Fox story referenced a critical statistic. “In 2017, there were 386 pursuits. As of Dec. 6, 2018, there had been more than 800.These stats indicate MPD will conduct over 900 pursuits in 2018.  Officers and innocent citizens were placed in danger 500 times more in 2018 than in 2017. How can this be acceptable to anyone?

Milwaukee residents and visitors to the city have a very real reason to be frightened. Think about it: These stats represent an average of 18 life-endangering pursuits per week, and that does not include the many pursuits started in surrounding jurisdictions which later cross into Milwaukee.

So, I ask you sir, “What is the price, in human life and suffering, that Milwaukee is willing to pay to apprehend speeders, other non-violent felony driving violators and stolen vehicles?”

I also ask you another critical question. What happens to those who are apprehended under this revised and dangerous policy? I contend that the answer is no different than under the previous MPD administration’s more restrictive and safer pursuit policies – not enough.

There are many other questions you should be asking and answering.

  1. Based on 18 pursuits per day, do you REALLY BELIEVE this new policy is working?
  2. Does the DA ever charge for “felony eluding?” I haven’t heard anything about that.
  3. What happens to apprehended car thieves?
  4. Are all of these “dangerous criminals” being convicted?
  5. Are these criminals ultimately serving any jail time, or simply being released back onto the streets 48 hours after their apprehension?
  6. How many stolen-vehicle pursuits end in the stolen vehicle being totaled or damaged anyway?
  7. With an obscenely high 900 pursuits in 2018, have you consider comparing Milwaukee with other major cities? I am willing to bet that such a study will show Milwaukee is wildly out of statistical norms.
  8. If this greatly weakened pursuit policy is actually working, shouldn’t pursuits be declining, not rising like a SpaceX rocket?
  9. And, if this policy was actually working, shouldn’t pursuit-related deaths and injuries be declining? That is obviously NOT the case.
  10. In the New Year’s Eve pursuit, both the old and new policies would have authorized the initiation of a pursuit. But there are still questions even in this case.
    1. Was policy followed once the pursuit exceeded 80mph on city streets?
    2. At what point should the safety of citizens have been deemed more important (by the pursuing officers and their command) than the desire for immediate apprehension of this suspect?
    3. Did any of the pursuing officers have MPD’s already-deployed GPS technology? That would have allowed a tag and follow-safely scenario.
    4. Finally, consider this:
      If that little girl had been a hostage held in a building, she likely would have been freed during MPD’s hostage negotiations. But there is no negotiating at 90 mph, just sudden and unnecessary death.

If officers had shot and killed as many people as have died in Milwaukee’s 2018 pursuits, you and city alderpersons would be demanding investigations, changes, and corrective actions. Yet, because these deaths were caused by 3,000-pound bullets and not those fired from guns, there is a deafening silence from city officials.

There is no dishonor for public officials to reassess policies that are not working. In fact, that is an obligation. Yet I contend, for contentious political reasons, Milwaukee officials are conveniently ignoring the facts and are forgetting those killed and injured in these 2018 chases.

These people, their stories, their families and their friends simply end up as collateral damage, forgotten before the wreckage is swept from the street.

But I do not forget. Ever. It’s personal for me; and has been since my son was killed in an equally unnecessary police chase.

Innocents are already killed too often in violent felony situations. Unnecessary bystander deaths as a result of non-violent felony chases makes it even more critical that Milwaukee return to a safer, violent felony-only pursuit policy.

If you missed the daily carnage reports, here are several truly horrible 2018 consequences caused by Milwaukee’s weakened pursuit policies.

  • Milwaukee police officer Charles Irvine killed. LINK
  • A 65-year-old woman killed. LINK
  • MCTS driver in critical condition. LINK
  • 3 dead, including 2-year-old. LINK
  • One dead, two seriously injured. LINK

Other major cities invest in training and technology to reduce pursuits and still catch criminals. Milwaukee already has an excellent start using technology that will reduce the need for unnecessary pursuits. As I understand, the original MPD 2018 budget had additional funds allocated to equip even more police vehicles with GPS technology. Did they take advantage of this?

Unless saner minds prevail, there will most certainly be more Milwaukee police chase deaths, injuries and the lawsuits that will follow.

Mayor, you and I both know that Milwaukee CAN do better. Milwaukee MUST do better. Much better. But it takes a committed and courageous leader to drive such a change. I truly hope that you are such a leader.

Wishing Milwaukee a significantly safer 2019.

Kindest regards,

Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate
Pursuit For Change

adminAn Open Letter to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett
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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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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.

adminAn Unexpected Opinion? Violent Felony Pursuits
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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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NBC Boston 2018 Police Pursuit Investigative Stories

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NBC Boston 2018 Police Pursuit Investigative Stories

A note from Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change
August 17, 2018

I’m driving across Ohio on Interstate 80 and my phone rings. I don’t recognize the number, so I ignore the call. Several minutes later my phone signals that I have an email. And that’s how this most recent NBC news story came about.
Reporter Ally Donnelly and a team of NBC Boston investigative journalists asked if I could be available for a story they were working on. They also asked to be connected to Kate.
The request came as a result of yet another horrible and unnecessary police pursuit death. This time, a new father was coming home from his first visit with his newborn daughter in the hospital. He was struck by someone fleeing police.

Ally Donnelly, Danielle Waugh and Ken Tompkins were each involved with my interviews. Danielle and Ken drove to Gardiner, Maine to meet with me. Ally met with Kate at the site of Paul’s death. There are also videos about training and technology, the key to saving lives.

Below are the stories and videos.

Victims, Police Want More Training and Funding to Reduce Risk of Police Pursuits

Original story and ALL VIDEOS at: https://www.nbcboston.com/investigations/Victims-Police-Want-More-Training-and-Funding-to-Reduce-Risk-of-Police-Pursuits-490504951.html

A fatal Cape Cod crash has opened up old wounds for families of innocent bystanders who were killed in accidents involving police pursuits. They say a lack of training, funding and scrutiny of police pursuits are putting us all at risk.

(Published Friday, Aug. 10, 2018)

When Katlyn Hoyt’s eyes opened for the first time in days, she thought she was in New York.

But Hoyt was in Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, recovering from a severe crash in Somerville, Massachusetts that left her in a coma.

Perhaps mercifully, she still, 11 years later, has no recollection of that early morning crash on May 27, 2007.

“It’s like I was looking at a movie,” Hoyt said. “That wasn’t my cab. That wasn’t me.”

She also didn’t remember the man in the cab with her. Paul Farris, her 23-year-old boyfriend, died in the crash, along with the cab driver, Walid Chahine.

Hoyt, and Farris’ father, Jon, later found out that a man driving without a license fleeing police had crashed into their cab.

Mashpee Police are still investigating last month’s deadly crash that killed a new father on his way home from the hospital. He was hit by a man being chased by police for driving erratically.

VIDEO 2, https://www.nbcboston.com/on-air/as-seen-on/DIT-CAR-CHASE-5—Copy_NECN-490487621.html?t=1
WATCH: Wild Police Chases From Around the Country

We are constantly seeing examples of police pursuing suspects in vehicles. Many of these pursuits are unavoidable, but there is an inherent risk to the public as vehicles weave through neighborhoods or reach speeds of more than 100 mph on highways. Here’s a look at some notable police chases from around the country.

(Published Friday, Aug. 10, 2018)

The Mashpee crash opened old wounds for families like the Farrises and the Hoyts. Victims of crashes that result from police pursuits, their families, and police themselves say that a lack of training, funding and scrutiny of pursuits is putting everyone at risk.

According to the State Police report of Farris’ crash, Trooper Joseph Kalil spotted a black Mercury SUV make an illegal U-turn on Route 16 in Everett. Kalil flipped on his lights and tried to pull over the driver, but he took off.

Kalil chased, following the SUV into the densely populated residential streets in Medford and Somerville.

The driver, Javier Morales, turned off College Avenue onto Kidder Avenue, where he crashed into the cab carrying Farris and Hoyt at the intersection with Highland Road.

“There should be no reason to have a chase here,” Hoyt said, revisiting the intersection this month with a reporter. “It just blows your mind.”

Jon Farris agrees.

“If I had been told that they were pursuing someone who shot somebody, had raped somebody, truly a violent felon, Paul would still be dead. I would still be heartbroken. But I would understand that,” Farris said. “The fact that a guy made an illegal U-turn and then ran from police, ultimately we found out that he just didn’t have a driver’s license. He was running because he was afraid he was going to go to jail, which he would have. But that made no sense to me. And so Paul’s dead and in my mind, there’s zero reason.”

VIDEO 3, https://www.nbcboston.com/on-air/as-seen-on/pursuitwebextrafinal—Copy_NECN-490509221.html?t=188
   WATCH:  Jon Farris talks about pursuits and Paul
Jon Farris lost his son Paul in 2007. Massachusetts State Police changed their pursuit policy shortly after the crash.

(Published Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018)

Every deadly pursuit feels like a knife in the heart, Farris said. For the last decade he has pushed for more national oversight and accountability into what he calls an underreported public threat.

“No one has a clue how bad this is,” he said.

On average, nearly one person is killed each day in pursuits across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In Massachusetts, 225 people have been killed since 1982. Thirty percent were innocent bystanders like Farris and Chahine.

Mashpee police are continuing to investigate a crash that killed three people last month. Police pursued an erratic driver who failed to stop. He ended up crashing head on into an SUV driven by a new father on his way home from the hospital. That crash has stirred difficult memories for victims and families of other police pursuit crashes. They tel…Read more

(Published Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018)

Fred Leland, a retired Walpole police lieutenant who trains police in pursuit conduct, said cops “live in the gray” of unknowns and potential danger when deciding in the heat of the moment whether to pursue a driver speeding away.

“What if I say, ‘You know what it’s not that serious I’m gonna let him go,’ and then he goes down the street and hits somebody anyway?” he said.

Despite the media spotlight on dramatic pursuits, like one a month ago in Las Vegas where an officer returned fire through his own windshield at a fleeing vehicle he knew held dangerous felons, most attempted stops are more mundane.

According to the Department of Justice, two-thirds of pursuits begin, like the crashes in Somerville and Mashpee, with a traffic violation: speeding, erratic driving or a suspended license.

And for police, the chase itself is often a trial by fire. Leland said local departments do not get enough training, and real-world pursuits are not common for a given officer.

“We don’t have much experience in pursuits,” Leland said. “I know we’re the police and you see them on television and you think, ‘Oh you do them all the time.’ But no, we don’t.”

Officers get 48 hours of driving training when they first join the police academy. Pursuits are part of it, but what happens after that depends on their department.

“Some places do more, some places do less,” said Steve Wojnar, chief of the Dudley Police Department and president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.

He said all departments have written pursuit policies, but like the situations officers face, none are the same. And he agreed that training officers in pursuits should be mandatory.

“You never know exactly what it’s going to be like. You’re going to constantly reassess and re-evaluate the situation,” he said. “How are you going to function under a stressful situation? Are you going to be able to react? Are you going to be able to react properly?

But, as always, the obstacle for cash-strapped departments is paying for it.

“Training is the last thing to be funded and the first thing to be cut when there’s problems and that’s bad,” Leland said.

Bad, too, for a father who lost a son over an illegal U-turn.

“I don’t want other people to have to go through it. I shouldn’t have to be crying every other day when I’m mowing the lawn. It’s horrible,” Farris said.

Farris has been pushing federal legislation that would require departments to track pursuits and would fund more training. He also favors policies that would restrict when officers can pursue to when the officer knows he is chasing a violent felon.

Wojnar hopes training money could also come from the local police training bill Gov. Charlie Baker signed last week.

#PursuitReductionTechnology

Training and Technology Can Reduce Police Pursuits, But Funding Is Lacking

Some police departments in Massachusetts are re-evaluating their policies or looking for ways to avoid high-speed chases altogether to minimize fatal crashes and severe injuries.

But while many police chiefs agree that training and new devices can help reduce casualties in police pursuits, expensive technological tools and underfunded training budgets inhibit cash-strapped local departments from making changes.

The Methuen Police Department has adopted a cruiser-launched GPS tracking device that allows officers to avoid chases without losing a suspect.

“Anything we can do to avoid a pursuit and make a safer conclusion, we try to do that,” said Methuen Police Sgt. James Moore.

The device, called StarChase, is about the size of a can of soda. It is filled with foam and the tracking device. One end has a sticky pad.

An officer can launch the tracker either from inside the cruiser, or near the cruiser using a key fob, and the data is relayed back to dispatch.

“But we’re not going to chase it at 100 miles per hour, or we’re not going to have people giving themselves a potential for danger just for a person that was stopped for a red light,” Moore said.

Specific training is not required for pursuits like it is for firearms or Tasers. Each department sets its own policy on pursuits where officers and usually supervisors weigh the reason for the initial stop against the risk to the public if they chase. Most pursuits start over a minor traffic violation.

We are constantly seeing examples of police pursuing suspects in vehicles. Many of these pursuits are unavoidable, but there is an inherent risk to the public as vehicles weave through neighborhoods or reach speeds of more than 100 mph on highways. Here’s a look at some notable police chases from around the country.(Published Friday, Aug. 10, 2018)

Officer Derek Licata, the Methuen department’s training coordinator, said training is critical because officers in that instant, or any high-stress situation, goes “instantly into fight or flight mode.”

“It can actually sometimes cause you to lose focus of what you’re doing, kind of end up getting tunnel vision and not really focusing on the big picture,” he said.

According to federal data, about one person is killed each day in police pursuits across the country. Between 1982 and 2016, 225 people have been killed during police pursuits in Massachusetts, about a third innocent bystanders.

Three people in Barnstable were killed late last month, including a new father coming home from the hospital.

That chase started after a driver refused to pull over in Mashpee, and the officer gave chase along Route 28. The driver crashed head-on into an SUV carrying the new father, a Marine. The Marine, the driver, and the driver’s girlfriend all died in the crash.

Listen to the recording of the Mashpee, Massachusetts dispatch and the police officer pursuing the suspect before the fatal crash on July 28.(Published Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018)

“Nobody wants that to happen. Nobody went out with the intent of that happening,” said Fred Leland, a retired police lieutenant from Walpole who now consults with departments on training.

Leland said local departments need more training in how and when to chase. But in the heat of the moment, when an officer hears of a speeding, erratic driver blowing through stop signs, he knows the officer thinks: “Danger. I think this guy’s putting people in danger.”

Methuen has not had to deploy its tracking device, officers there said. And they intend for the system to obviate the need for high-speed pursuits in the city from now on.

“The days of people just chasing cars, for us, they’re over,” Moore said. “We don’t look forward to that and we’re certainly not trained or encouraged to do it.”

Multiple Massachusetts police chiefs told NBC10 Boston they need more funding to buy technology like StarChase and to train officers.

But they are also calling on lawmakers to dramatically increase the penalty for failing to stop for police. They think making it a felony would greatly reduce the number of people who flee.

Currently, failing to stop for police is a $100 fine.

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If pursuits are one of police’s most ‘dangerous activities,’ should policies be stricter?

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Yes. Yes. #PoliceChases should be much stricter.

Pursuit For Change advocates for limiting most pursuits to violent felons only.

If pursuits are one of police’s most ‘dangerous activities,’ should policies be stricter?

Over the last six months, the WCPO I-team has collected records from 40 different police departments and reviewed thousands of disciplinary cases involving officers. Our motives are simple: We want to make sure the people who protect us and enforce our laws are worthy of the high level of trust the public gives them. Read more about this project and why we are doing it here.

SHARONVILLE, Ohio — Cynthia Kennedy, of Liberty Township, was driving along Sharon Road on July 4, 2015, when a speeding vehicle slammed into her car.

“It was very scary for me,” Kennedy said in an interview with the WCPO I-Team. “I did see a car coming very fast, and then I saw policce lights behind it. I saw them coming, and I tried to shift back, but the car wouldn’t move, and he came so fast that I couldn’t get the car in gear.

“It was very traumatic.”

According to a Sharonville police officer’s report, the crash marked the end of a two-and-a-half minute high-speed chase along Interstate 75 around 6:30 p.m. The chase began after an officer observed then 33-year-old Jeremy Baker operating his vehicle at speeds approaching 120 miles per hour.

The I-Team reviewed records from 40 police departments serving the Tri-State, focusing on the agencies in seven metro area counties in Ohio and Kentucky. Reporters studied thousands of incidents involving police in large and small law enforcement agencies to see how police officers are held accountable.

We weren’t sure what we would find when we began collecting these records, but our goal was making sure the public was aware of how law enforcement agencies handle discipline.

RELATED: I-Team investigates how Tri-State police departments discipline officers who break the law

Those records showed that guidelines for high-speed pursuits of suspects can be broad and sometimes inconsistent across jurisdictions.

I-Team reporters also found that even when a department has a policy against chasing suspects at high speeds, some departments do not consistently discipline offending officers.

It’s a regional issue that Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said needs fixing.

“I think we should all be on the same page, not only in pursuits, but in most of the things we do,” he told WCPO. “It’s certainly something that I’m willing to be a part of and even take the leadership on to see if we can have a more uniform policy in the region.”

‘Consistent with policy’?

Kennedy, her passenger, and Baker recovered from their injuries, but it could have been a far more tragic story: Law enforcement leaders view emergency vehicular pursuits as a huge safety threat.

“I think vehicle pursuits are one of the most dangerous activities that our officers engage in,” Isaac told the I-Team. “Not only for themselves, but for the community at large.”

Tulsa Police Maj. Travis Yates, who runs a national pursuit-training academy, told USA Today the same thing: “A pursuit is probably the most unique and dangerous job law enforcement can do.

“We’re not taking it seriously enough because we think that one day of training that an officer may have gotten in their academy is going to take effect 10 years later when a pursuit begins,” he said. “Most officers will never fire their firearms ever, but we train one to four times a year” on how to fire guns.

Police ultimately charged Baker with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, failure to control a vehicle and excessive speed, among other charges.

None of the three officers involved in the chase faced any sort of disciplinary action.

Sharonville PD Vehicle Pursuit Report 7.4.15 by WCPO Web Team on Scribd

The internal review documents above include notes indicating the officers were traveling at speeds above 100 miles per hour and weaving through traffic while pursuing Baker. It also indicates an officer ran a red light at more than 50 miles per hour, and that one of the squad cars involved was in pursuit with its emergency lights on, but not its siren.

When it comes to speed, the Sharonville Police Department does not specify a certain speed at which pursuing officers need to stand down. The policy reads:

“When a motor vehicle pursuit exposes any officer, member of the public or suspect to unnecessary risk, then the pursuit is inconsistent with the policy of the Sharonville Police Department and should be terminated.”

The policy also specifies that officers in a pursuit must come to “a controlled slow/stop before proceeding under a red light,” but does not further define the term “controlled slow/stop.” As for the lights and siren — they’re a must.

Of the 30 police pursuit policies WCPO obtained, the most common criteria dictating officers’ best practices are:

  • Nature of suspected offense
  • Public and/or traffic in the vicinity
  • Weather and road conditions
  • Speed of the pursuit
  • Crossing into other jurisdictions
  • Time of day
  • Vehicle equipment (lights, sirens, markings, etc.)

According to Sharonville Police Lt. Jim Nesbit, the review of Baker’s pursuit found nothing that didn’t fit departmental policy.

“In the review of the pursuits, as I understand it, (the officers’ actions) were found consistent with policy that was in place at the time,” Nesbit told the I-Team.

The crash still haunting Kennedy was one of the eight pursuits involving Sharonville officers in 2015. In half of those pursuits, Sharonville officers hit speeds of at least 110 miles per hour. Five of those eight pursuits ended in crashes.

Out of those crashes, the Sharonville department hasn’t disciplined any officers involved in pursuits during the last three years, WCPO’s research indicates.

Across the Tri-State, law enforcement agencies have 44 pursuit policy violations on record since 2013. Discipline ranged from a verbal warning to additional training to — in rare instances — suspension.

Some cases involved officers speeding without their lights and sirens activated, or failing to end a pursuit when they were ordered to do so. In other cases, supervisors got in trouble because they didn’t intervene when there was was a pursuit violation under their command. And sometimes, officers put their own lives at risk by not wearing a seat belt during a high-speed chase, according to police documents.

One case involved a Butler County dispatcher who “froze-up” when a deputy went on a pursuit; other dispatchers had to take over.

Of the 44 reported policy violations, here’s a breakdown of the disciplinary measures taken:

 

Those violations came from these jurisdictions:

  • Blue Ash PD
  • Butler County Sheriff’s Office
  • Cincinnati PD
  • Delhi Township PD
  • Erlanger PD
  • Fairfield PD
  • Fort Wright PD
  • Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office
  • Hamilton PD
  • Lebanon PD
  • Madeira PD
  • Middletown PD
  • Norwood PD
  • Springdale PD
  • Taylor Mill PD
  • Warren County Sheriff’s Office

‘Corrective measures’

Nesbit stressed the importance of officers’ discretion and decision-making in helping avoid these chase scenarios.

“Their good judgment has to come into play when they are in the field,” he said. “Our officers have exhibited good judgment.”

But even in Sharonville’s one pursuit so far this year, an officer drove more than 100 miles per hour on wet pavement. The detailed review noted excessive speed and wet road conditions, but the officer still wasn’t disciplined.

Instead, the officer went through what Nesbit called “corrective measures.”

“Corrective measures were taken to make sure that his decision-making was consistent with our policy and our best practices placing public safety as the number one priority,” Nesbit said.

Those corrective measures did not include a written reprimand or a suspension, nor was the incident recorded as a violation.

Sharonville PD has since revised its policies regarding vehicle pursuits and undid a requirement that officers always pursue if the driver is a felony suspect, even across state lines.

Several police chiefs told the I-Team that inconsistent discipline reflects the inconsistent expectations of officers in pursuits: Some departments never pursue. Some only pursue if the subject is suspected on a felony charge. Some pursue for something as minor as a traffic violation. Some have restrictions on weather or road conditions.

Some have speed limits. Some don’t.

Another common phrase in police pursuit policies: “per the officer’s judgment.”

Having broad language in policy makes it difficult to enforce and discipline violating officers, said Phil Stinson, associate professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University. Stinson has researched police practices for decades, and said some pursuit policies are strict, while others allow considerable leeway for officers.

“If there’s no written policy or if the policy is very vague, you’re not going to have much in the way of discipline,” Stinson told the I-Team.

Pursuits’ lasting impact

For Kennedy, just being in a car still gives her anxiety, two years after the crash.

“I get chest pains sometimes,” she told the I-Team. “It’s caused a lot of emotional stress for me.”

Kennedy is part of the roughly 30 percent of people involved in police pursuit collisions nationwide who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which says hundreds of Americans die each year in police pursuits.

Meantime, she took the I-Team to the scene of her crash hoping to convince police to slow down and reconsider the urge to race to justice.

“I have, I guess you could say, a little post-traumatic stress from being hit,” she said. “There’s other means of pursuing an individual rather than a high-speed pursuit and endangering others.”

WCPO Web Editor Joe Rosemeyer and freelance journalists Laura Consolo, Kevin Eigelbach, Hannah Hagedorn and Roxanna Swift, contributed to this report.

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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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