Voices of Victims

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

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Georgia Police Pursuit legislation

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Georgia Police Pursuit legislation

A letter to Senator Gail Davenport, Georgia.
Dear Senator Davenport,
I recently read about your desire to pass legislation creating greater consistency in pursuit-policies across Georgia jurisdictions (news story below). It was disappointing that your SB 42 was unable to gain traction. I obviously don’t need to tell you, but legislation affecting and mandating law enforcement follow certain rules is an incredibly tough hill to climb.
I applaud your efforts and I know it is critically important for laws to be changed if we truly want to save bystander and law enforcement officer lives. It is especially important to me because my 23-year old son was an innocent victim, killed in a totally unnecessary, misdemeanor traffic violation pursuit outside of Boston.
My name is Jon Farris. I am the founder and Chief Advocate of Pursuit For Change, a national police pursuit victims’ advocacy group. The organization works with legislators, media and law enforcement. We are primarily focused on LEO departmental pursuit policies, laws related to pursuits, pursuit reduction technology and increased officer driving training. Each of these actions will reduce unnecessary police chases and prevent innocent citizen and police officer deaths and injuries. We continue to work toward the following goals:
  • Mandatory Federal Statistical Tracking of pursuit injuries and deaths
  • Greater grant funding to support law enforcement usage of pursuit reduction technology
  • Law enforcement funding for pursuit driving training
  • Pursuit policy modifications including greater inter-jurisdictional policy consistency and movement toward violent felony-only pursuits
Feel free to visit PursuitForChange.org, PaulFarris.org and PursuitResponse.org to learn much more about everything that we do.
I want you and your staff to know that we are here to support you in any way that we can. Please feel free to reach out at any time.
Wishing you and your family a truly wonderful 2019.
Kindest regards,
Jonathan Farris

 

Jonesboro Democrat wants police chase policy for all of Georgia

A southwest Atlanta woman was heading to church in January 2016 with her two grandchildren when a man fleeing College Park police slammed into their car, killing all three.
Now their family is urging Georgia lawmakers to establish a statewide policy for when officers should pursue a suspect and when they should call off that chase to keep the public safe.

“State Patrol gets a year of training,” said Doug Partridge, whose children and mother-in-law were killed in the crash. “But city police aren’t getting enough training to know how to handle these chases.”

While statewide statistics weren’t available, the loss of Partridge’s family members isn’t an isolated incident. A South Fulton police officer pursuing a stolen vehicle last month collided with a van, killing three men.

State Sen. Gail Davenport, D-Jonesboro, said she plans to file legislation in January that would create a standard for state, county and city police agencies that authorize police pursuits. She proposed a similar bill in 2016, but it received no traction.

“We support the police. We respect the police,” she said. “But we want to make sure no innocent lives are lost.”

Law enforcement officials who spoke at a hearing Friday to study police pursuits agreed that specialized training was necessary to keep the public and officers safe, but they told senators they believe those decisions should be made by each jurisdiction.

“I know that a lot of times the incidents that occur are very difficult, and they’re ones that are very emotional,” Georgia State Patrol Col. Mark McDonough said. “But for the bigger picture, I think that it’s important … that folks need to realize that when a police officer signals them to pull over, it’s their responsibility under the law to do so.”

Some local jurisdictions, including Atlanta and Dunwoody, don’t allow officers to pursue cars when the driver isn’t actively violent or accused of committing a felony. South Fulton police changed their policy on pursuing stolen cars Nov. 27, about two weeks after last month’s fatal crash.

It is up to the officer to weigh the seriousness of the crime against the threat of endangering the public and decide whether to call off the pursuit.

Joi Partridge said she wants officers statewide to get the proper training to know when it becomes unsafe to the public to continue to pursue a suspect who is fleeing — such as when the chase enters a neighborhood. Had that been the policy of College Park officers in 2016, she said she believes her mother, 12-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter would still be alive.

“It doesn’t make sense to chase through a neighborhood where the speed limit is 25 or 35 miles an hour,” she said. “After the accident, they didn’t even apprehend the suspect.”

Partridge and her husband are suing the College Park and Atlanta police departments in the deaths in their family.

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Police pursuits: Are they worth risk of injury, death?

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Police pursuits: Are they worth risk of injury, death?

An OpEd by Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

Hi Mike,

Merry Christmas!

Thanks for an interesting and in-depth story regarding police pursuits in your area. I am encouraged when reporters delve into this national issue.

It is very clear that Richmond Police Department, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and Indiana State Police all have weak pursuit policies compared with more progressive jurisdictions across the US. Those stronger policies specifically define (and limit) when an officer can and cannot chase.

Over and over and over we listen to chiefs and sheriffs with similarly lacking policies espouse their excellent training and how qualified their officers are to decide when and how long and how far and how fast to pursue. Yet over 90% of pursuits are started after a non violent felony crimes – crimes which were not endangering anyone, like 4-year-old Madilynn Roberts above, UNTIL THE PURSUIT BEGAN

As a result of departments continuing to sanction pursuits for non violent felony crimes and misdemeanor infractions, thousands of innocent citizens are killed and/or maimed annually. Additionally, on average, seven (7) LEOs are killed and scores more are injured. Six (6) officers have been killed in pursuit-related crashes so far in 2018. 

Although there are a handful of states that mandate reporting of pursuit-related deaths, there is still no mandatory 50-State or Federal tracking of police chase-related deaths or injuries.  As a result, we know there are many more pursuit injuries and deaths that are simply tallied as vehicularaccidents.”

Yet dangerous police chases persist like an antibiotic-resistant pandemic. Way too often we hear the exact same comment from departmental leadership, “We feel we’re doing as much as we can.”  But they are NOT.  If they were truly doing “all that they could,” then their pursuit-driving policies would be significantly stronger and they would cease to put their officers and innocent citizen at risk for petty crimes and misdemeanor traffic violations.

At Pursuit For Change and Pursuit Response we are working to highlight and actually do something about this massive public travesty. We are working diligently with state and Federal legislators for:

– Mandatory Federal Statistical Tracking of pursuit injuries and deaths
– Greater grant funding to support law enforcement usage of pursuit reduction technology
– Law enforcement funding for significantly more pursuit driving training
– Pursuit policy modifications including greater inter-jurisdictional policy consistency and movement toward violent felony-only pursuits

Thanks again for your reporting. It is critical that you and other reporters keep asking the difficult questions. Too many folks in the general public have no idea how pervasive the #PoliceChase problem is. And too often they find out TOO LATE – only after a loved one is killed or seriously injured. 

So, to answer your question, non violent felony pursuits ARE SIMPLY NOT worth the risk of injury and death to LEOs and innocent bystanders

 

Police pursuits: Are they worth risk of injury, death?

https://www.pal-item.com/story/news/crime/2018/12/21/police-pursuits-they-worth-risk-injury-death/2383055002/

by Mike Emery (@PI_Emory) (mwemery@pal-item.com)
Updated 9:36 a.m. ET Dec. 21, 2018

RICHMOND, Ind. — A tree occupied space where the white Ford’s passenger side should have been. The flying car had smashed sideways into the tree and wrapped itself partially around the trunk.

It looked horrendous as Richmond Fire Department personnel worked to free a 23-year-old passenger from the vehicle. Haley Caldwell and 4-year-old Madilynn Roberts both sustained serious injuries when the 19-year-old driver, Daniel Zenon Arguijo, lost control of the Ford while leading police on a high-speed pursuit Nov. 30 down U.S. 40. The incident sparked a social-media debate about the value of that pursuit versus the risk associated with it.

The injuries were serious, but not fatal. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case when suspects flee police. And about a third of those who do die aren’t even involved in the pursuits.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released statistics that the United States recorded 7,090 deaths related to police pursuits for the 20-year period from 1996 through 2015. That averages 355 — or nearly one a day — per year. Of those deaths, 88 were law enforcement officers, 4,637 were in the vehicle being chased, 2,088 were in a vehicle not involved and 277 were innocent bystanders.

Which leads to the important question for communities and law enforcement agencies: Are police pursuits worth it?

Richmond Police Department, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and Indiana State Police all have policies and procedures in place that permit officers to pursue fleeing suspects at the officer’s discretion. Nationwide, some agencies absolutely prohibit vehicle pursuits. Those agencies decided the risks to citizen and officer safety outweigh the need for suspect apprehension.

Accidents, injuries and worse occur regularly nationwide when drivers flee law enforcement and officers choose to pursue. According to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics’ analysis of the International Association of Chiefs of Police pursuit database, 15 percent of pursuits end in crashes. The database recorded 5,568 pursuits from 115 agencies from 2009 to 2013. One in every 200 pursuits in the database ended with a fatality, and there were two serious and 10 minor injuries for every 100 pursuits.

Those serious accidents and deaths occur in Wayne County, too.

Police pursuits in Wayne County over the years

A review of Pal Item stories involving police pursuits from 2011 through 2018 revealed 18 chases that ended in crashes. Two of those crashes killed the driver of the fleeing vehicle.

On March 11, 2013, Richmond Police Department pursued a wanted man onto Indiana 227. Even though officers discontinued the pursuit because of weather conditions and the dangerous way the suspect operated his Pontiac, the vehicle left the roadway and struck two trees, killing the driver.

On May 23, 2017, the Indiana State Police pulled over a driver in Henry County, and when the officer suspected impairment and asked the driver to step out of the car, the driver sped off. When entering Wayne County, the Cadillac was speeding enough to fly over a cable barrier in the median into oncoming westbound traffic. A head-on collision with a pickup killed the fleeing driver and injured two people in the pickup.

Even since the Nov. 30 incident, there have been pursuit incidents in Wayne County and Indiana.

A Muncie man escaped one multi-county pursuit of his Ford on Dec. 17, then led another pursuit after state troopers located him in Wayne County. David Reed Shoemaker, 43, lost control of his Ford, which left Mineral Springs Road and came to rest on its side in a wooded area. Shoemaker was not seriously injured.

An Indiana police officer was not as lucky Dec. 12. Hundreds attended Tuesday’s funeral services for Sgt. Benton Bertram, 33, in Charlestown, Indiana. The nine-year veteran of the Charlestown Police Department died when his police vehicle left Indiana 3 in Scott County and struck a tree. According to the online Officer Down Memorial Page, Bertram is the sixth law enforcement officer in the United States to die this year while engaged in a police pursuit.

Officers constantly balance community safety with the need to engage in pursuits or let suspects go

Of the 7,090 deaths related to pursuits from 1996 through 2015, 192 occurred in Indiana and 231 in Ohio. Seven of the Indiana deaths were police officers, 129 were people in the fleeing vehicle, 53 were people in another vehicle and three were bystanders. In Ohio, one was an officer, 100 were in fleeing vehicles, 116 were in other vehicles and 14 were bystanders.

By any count, pursuits pose one of the most dangerous actions police officers face. Officers must constantly balance community safety with the need to pursue. Is the community safe if officers let the suspect go? Is the community safe if officers continue to pursue?

It’s a tough spot with no easy answers.

“We’ll let people go we shouldn’t have,” RPD Chief Jim Branum said, “but it’s better to err on the side of caution.”

Branum said RPD has had 14 vehicle pursuits during 2018. None of those ended in an accident or with injuries.

And that’s how pursuits most often end. The International Association of Chiefs of Police database shows the pursued driver gives up and stops 29 percent of the time and 25 percent end when the police discontinue the pursuit, 17 percent end with the suspect eluding officers, 9 percent end with police intervention and 2 percent end with the suspect vehicle becoming disabled. Those cause no harm; however, the 15 percent that involve collisions do.

And that’s a rate too steep for some. The Bureau of Justice Statistics said an estimated 2 percent of local police forces and 1 percent of sheriff’s offices prohibited vehicle pursuits completely. Allowing a suspect to escape, though, runs against officers’ instincts.

“It’s tough to tell a young policeman to let a violator go, because catching the bad guy is what they’re hired to do,” Branum said. “Then, letting this person go, is that a danger to the public, as well?”

RPD, sheriff’s department and state police policies allow pursuits; however, they list factors an officer should consider when deciding to pursue. The factors include:

The severity of the offense committed by the suspect, which can be complicated by the fact the act of fleeing in a vehicle is a felony itself in Indiana;

  • Whether the suspect can be identified for later arrest;
  • The safety of those involved and the general public;
  • The amount of traffic on the roadway;
  • The time of day;
  • The speeds associated with the pursuit:
  • The road conditions; and
  • The perceived driving ability of the suspect, such as if the driver an inexperienced teenager.

Those factors must continuously be considered as the officer pursues. The three departments also allow officers and supervisors the authority to discontinue a pursuit at any time.

“There are lots of things to consider in a short amount of time,” said Branum, who noted he has discontinued pursuits as a supervisor. “And they’re all things you learned after becoming a police officer.”

The rules also lay out procedures and techniques for the execution of pursuits. All three agencies also then require a review of each pursuit that analyzes justification for the pursuit, the communication involved, the supervisors’ roles, equipment or training needs, disciplinary concerns and policy or procedure revisions.

Sheriff Jeff Cappa said the sheriff’s department policy meets the standards established by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, which has accredited the agency.

“I have a very professional staff, and they’re trained very well,” said Cappa, whose agency was involved in five pursuits during 2017 with no accidents or injuries. “They understand what the job requires in those situations.”

Traffic violations are primary reason why police pursuits begin, but officers often left wondering why suspects flee

The chase of Arguijo that ended with the Ford wrapped around a tree began with Arguijo running a stop sign and nearly striking Patrolman Adam Blanton’s vehicle. Arguijo sped away when Blanton turned to attempt a traffic stop.

That’s the most common reason for pursuits to begin, according to the Chiefs of Police database. Traffic violations trigger 69 percent of the pursuits, including 16 percent for speeding, 13 percent for reckless driving and 12 percent for suspicion of impaired driving. Suspects thought to have committed non-violent felonies — often auto theft — account for 12 percent of the pursuits, violent felonies for 9 percent and misdemeanors for 8 percent.

Pal Item stories about pursuits included those beginning for traffic stops, but officers also pursued a Florida murder suspect, an attempted murder suspect, robbery suspects, break-in suspects, suspects wanted on warrants, counterfeiters and suspected stolen vehicles. Even with traffic stops, there’s reason for officers to wonder why a suspect would commit a felony — the fleeing — to avoid a simple traffic citation.

“You don’t know why the person is fleeing,” Branum said.

During Blanton’s pursuit of Arguijo, the officer showed awareness of the traffic conditions on U.S. 40, which were lighter than expected at the time of the pursuit, and the fact other drivers were aware of Blanton and pulling to the side even before Arguijo reached them, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Blanton also noted he could not get close enough to procure Arguijo’s license plate number and that he was losing ground to Arguijo.

Still, Arguijo lost control when a vehicle pulled out of a shopping center entrance in front of him. Arguijo was later found to be under the influence of methamphetamine when he fled, running six stop signs and five red lights before he crashed. He has been charged with Level 5 felony resisting law enforcement causing serious injury, two counts of Level 6 felony driving under the influence of a controlled substance and causing serious injury, Level 6 felony criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon, Class A misdemeanor operating under the influence of a controlled substance while endangering a person and Class C misdemeanor operating under the influence of methamphetamine.

Shoemaker, who also crashed his Ford, fled to avoid a traffic stop in Muncie. He led police through four counties before his crash west of Centerville. Shoemaker was jailed on charges of Level 5 operating as a habitual traffic violator with a lifetime suspension and Level 6 felony resisting law enforcement.

Both men exceeded 90 miles per hour while they were being chased. The pursuit database shows 23 percent of pursuits topped 90 mph and 45 percent exceeded 70 mph. Wayne County pursuits regularly reach high speeds because of the roads that cross the county, including Interstate 70, U.S. 40, U.S. 35, Indiana 38 and Indiana 1.

Those roads also contribute to pursuits entering the county from other Indiana counties, such as Shoemaker, and from other states. Pal Item stories reflected pursuits that began in Delaware, Randolph, Henry, Union and Marion counties in Indiana, plus Preble and Montgomery counties in Ohio. In those instances, the Wayne County officers assist other agencies. On I-70, Branum said, local officers often are just asked to block exit ramps to keep the pursuit on the highway.

How police pursuits end: from stop sticks to roadblocks and other immobilization techniques

The proximity to the state border also means local pursuits travel into Ohio. Agency policies dictate what pursuits may be continued into Ohio and local officers’ roles once entering the neighboring state.

While the suspect driver in a pursuit might have a destination in mind, leaving pursuing officers “trying to keep up,” Branum said, officers have the advantage of their radios. That’s especially true now that the county has a centralized 911 center that dispatches calls for all county agencies. Dispatchers can communicate with every unit in the county, plus alert neighboring counties and states during a pursuit.

“It’s nearly impossible to outrun the radio, even if you can outrun the car,” Branum said.

The best conclusion to any pursuit is for the fleeing driver to pull over and surrender. Some will bail from their vehicles and attempt to run away from officers, which still is safer than high-speed pursuits. Other than that, officers can use tire deflators (stop sticks), roadblocks and sheer numbers to stop a fleeing vehicle. Only the state police permits precision immobilization techniques where officers use their vehicles to contact the fleeing vehicle, and then only under strict circumstances, such as lower speeds and by trained officers.

“The strategy is that there are enough units in the area so that the driver decides there’s no place to go,” said Branum, who noted stop sticks are never used on fleeing motorcycles that would crash as a result.

Pal Item pursuit stories noted five pursuits that were ended using stop sticks. Other pursuits ended when the fleeing drivers pulled into driveways, abandoned vehicles and ran, plowed into farm fields, traveled into yards, drove through a fence, struck law enforcement vehicles and crashed.

At least two technology-based ideas have been developed to assist officers in pursuits, but neither has become commonly accepted or used.

One idea involves firing a small, adhesive, GPS tag onto a fleeing vehicle from a launcher located behind the police vehicle’s grille. That allows officers to back off and track the suspect vehicle on a computer, delaying the arrest but eliminating a possibly dangerous pursuit. One drawback, however, is that a police vehicle equipped to fire the GPS tag must get close enough to the fleeing vehicle to attach the tag.

Another idea involves using a remote to disable the engine of a fleeing vehicle. Branum said he wonders how the fleeing vehicle would react if the engine suddenly shuts down at high speed.

Of pursuits in the Chiefs of Police database, 57 percent ended within three minutes and 66 percent covered less than three miles. The data shows that the longer a pursuit lasts and when more law enforcement vehicles become involved the likelihood of a crash increases.

Cappa and Branum said their officers are trained in emergency vehicle operation when they attend the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy for their initial training. The state then requires additional annual training in operating emergency vehicles. The training is classroom training and in-car training. Cappa said his officers received both kinds of training this year, while Branum said RPD alternates years between classroom and road training.

The road training, he said, usually is done at the Richmond Municipal Airport on a timed course that tests the necessary skills. Officers drive their day-to-day vehicles when training.

“We feel we’re doing as much as we can,” Branum said.

That training, however, does not make officers, such as Sgt. Bertram, infallible when in pursuit. Also, the drivers fleeing from law enforcement do not receive such training. And their vehicles might not be pursuit ready such as law enforcement pursuit-certified vehicles. Those drivers, much like Arguijo and Shoemaker, can lose control and crash.

In the end, officers must quickly and continuously weigh many factors and reach a decision about engaging in a pursuit.

“I think part of how you combat that is have a policy in place, have guidelines and lay down for the officers that these are the rules,” Branum said. “I think we’ve done well the past three of four years I’ve had reason to monitor it.”

Most times the officer will apprehend a driver who chose to flee, and sometimes that driver will present a clear — if not deadly — danger to society. But other times, suspects, police officers and innocent bystanders will also continue to sustain serious injuries and lose their lives because of police pursuits.

Which leads back to the important question for communities and law enforcement agencies: Are police pursuits worth it?

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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.

adminOpinion: Milwaukee Gambles with Citizen and Officer Lives
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Searching for Help in Washington DC

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Searching for Help in Washington DC

by Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change
October 2018

 

Police chases kill hundreds of people every year. At least one third of those killed are innocent bystanders. Additionally, law enforcement officers (LEO) are always at risk while chasing or while en route to a pursuit.

In 2017 five (5) law enforcement officers were killed in pursuits. This year through September, four (4) officers have fallen in chase-related incidents.

And because Federal and State statistical tracking is so weak, we have absolutely no idea how many innocent bystanders and LEOs have been injured as a result of pursuit-related driving incidents.

Although there are not many organizations focused specifically on reducing dangerous police chases, there are some.

US Capitol 2018. Photo by Jon Farris. All rights reserved.

During October of 2018, members of the PursuitResponse group, of which Pursuit For Change is a member, visited Washington DC to meet with legislators once again.  PursuitResponse’s core members are technologists offering advanced tools designed to reduce active police chases and to increase LEOs’ hands-on training designed to help them remain safe during high-risk vehicle events. The orgainzation has also partnered with and are supported by advocates and law enforcement.

So we continue to meet and work with legislators who are interested in and support our mission to prevent unnecessary deaths and injuries of citizens and law enforcement officers. We will accomplish this through training, advocacy, and additional legislation.

  • Mandatory Federal statistical tracking of pursuit injuries and deaths
  • Greater (and specifically earmarked) grant funding for utilization of pursuit reduction technology and high-risk vehicle driver training
  • Pursuit policy modifications, focusing on movement toward violent felony-only chases

Creating legislative partnerships and new legislation is always a slow process. But please know that we will not give up, because it is so important.  This is especially true for those of us who have personally suffered a direct pursuit-related loss. We want to reduce the liklihood that it isn’t you who receives a life-changing 4:00AM call…

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial 2018. Photo by Jon Farris. All rights reserved.

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A father who lost his innocent bystander son in a police chase criticizes Milwaukee billboard campaign

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Thank you to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (@journalsentinel) reporter Jesse Garza (@JJGGarza) for taking time to learn about our mission and for putting together a terrific story.

 

Original publication:
https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/crime/2018/08/31/dad-who-lost-son-police-chase-criticizes-milwaukee-billboards/1146518002/

A father who lost his innocent bystander son in a police chase criticizes Milwaukee billboard campaign

 

Jonathan Farris has never been able to make sense of his son’s death.

Paul Farris was 23 when the taxi he and his girlfriend were in was struck by an SUV being chased by a Massachusetts state trooper after a traffic violation.

“If Paul was killed as a result of a violent felony … where a person’s life was put at risk, we could understand that,” Farris said. “But Paul was killed as a result of a guy making an illegal U-turn.”

Now, 11 years later, Jonathan Farris can’t make sense of new billboards warning four-wheeled lawbreakers of the consequences of fleeing Milwaukee police.

“Does anyone actually believe that a few billboards will have ANY impact on Milwaukee’s criminal driving problems?” Farris, founder of Madison-based Pursuit for Change, asked this week in an open letter to Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales and the city’s Fire and Police Commission.

The national organization advocates for safer police pursuit policies, more pursuit training for officers and technology that helps reduce the need for pursuits.

 

“Criminals could care less what is printed on a billboard,” Farris said.

The cost of the billboards is even more perplexing to Farris since Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council approved funding for expanded GPS tracking technology for new police vehicles.

“If you’re going to spend money, put it back into things that help reduce pursuits,” Farris says in the letter.

Morales has said the billboards serve as a reminder of the reckless driving initiative launched by Milwaukee police, the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office and the State Patrol earlier this year.

He added that the initiative is bolstered by his department’s pursuit policy, which was revised a year ago to allow officers to chase drivers suspected of nonviolent felonies such as drug possession and reckless driving.

RELATED: ‘You will be noticing it’: Milwaukee police, sheriff’s office and state patrol ramp up traffic enforcement

RELATED: Milwaukee police vehicle pursuits surge after policy change to target reckless drivers

The department had tightened the policy in 2010 after four bystanders were killed by drivers fleeing police. The policy then stated that officers could not chase for misdemeanor offenses, such as drug possession, or nonviolent felonies, such as burglary.

But aldermen called for an overhaul to the policy after a rash of hit-and-run deaths and the rise of vehicles used as rolling drug houses.”

Morales was unavailable for comment Thursday and Friday, but a police spokeswoman said the reckless driving initiative has resulted in about 2,500 traffic-related citations and the seizure of a significant amount of drugs and illegal money.

“Our priority is to keep the streets of Milwaukee safe,” Sgt. Sheronda Grant said, also noting a 21% drop in fatal crashes.

On June 7, Milwaukee Police Officer Charles Irvine Jr., 23, was killed when the squad he was in crashed on the city’s northwest side during a pursuit of a reckless driver. His partner, Officer Matthew Schulze, was driving and was injured in the rollover crash.

The suspected fleeing driver, Ladell Harrison, 29, has been charged with 11 felonies.

Thousands of bystanders killed, injured

Nationally, from 1979 to 2015, more than 5,000 bystanders and passengers — including Paul Farris — were killed and thousands more injured during police pursuits at high speeds and in hazardous conditions, often for minor infractions, according to an analysis by USA TODAY.

Paul Farris was born in Milwaukee, grew up in Minneapolis and earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, in 2006.

 

He was the lead singer of an indie rock band called theMark, was working as an insurance adjuster and had just completed law school entrance exams.

“He was an outgoing, active, smart, engaged young man,” his father recalled.

“He had a lot of best friends.”

Early on May 27, 2007, Paul Farris and his girlfriend were in Somerville, Massachusetts, in a taxi driven by Walid Chahine, 45.

Shortly before 1:30 a.m., Javier Morales, then 29, fled a trooper attempting to stop him in nearby Everett for a traffic violation in his Mercury Mountaineer.

Morales led the trooper on a high-speed chase through Everett, Medford and finally Somerville, where his SUV slammed into the taxi, fatally injuring Farris and critically injuring his girlfriend and Chahine.

Chahine died several days later.

Notified of his son’s death by an emergency room doctor, Farris was not aware a police pursuit preceded the crash until after he arrived in Massachusetts to claim his son’s body.

“The State Patrol never contacted us,” he said. “I learned about what had happened from a reporter.”

Javier Morales was charged with two counts each of manslaughter and motor vehicle homicide and sentenced to 15 to 20 years in prison.

State Police later overhauled the agency’s chase policy, placing greater emphasis on assessing potential risk to the public.

Jonathan Farris sought solace by connecting with the families of other pursuit victims and began researching pursuit policies and fatalities.

This led to “activism as therapy” and his eventual founding of Pursuit for Change.

He now travels the country promoting safer pursuit policies among lawmakers, law enforcement agencies and the media and has helped craft legislation to reduce unnecessary pursuits.

“My son would expect this of me, and I’m confident that if it had happened to me he would have done the same thing,” Farris said.

“The only way change ever occurs is if some people get mad enough and something gets done.”

adminA father who lost his innocent bystander son in a police chase criticizes Milwaukee billboard campaign
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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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This Is Not Just Another Day

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By Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate for Pursuit For Change.

This Is Not Just Another Day

Every year since my son Paul was killed, on the anniversary of his death, I’ve posted a note. Perhaps on Facebook, at PaulFarris.org, at PursuitForChange.org or some other place for others to read. I suspect I’ll continue this forever.

These stories typically focus on my personal feelings and on the never-ending issue of dangerous non-violent felony police chases.

I can tell you that the anniversary of the death of a child is seared into your brain. It hurts so very much. It tears at your heart and at your soul. It never lets go. But we go on…

Paul was an innocent victim, killed during a police chase after a man running from misdemeanor traffic violation. Because of that I’ve expended years of heartache and energy telling his story to anyone who will listen. Today both Pursuit For Change and Pursuit Response continue efforts by working with law enforcement agencies and legislators. Our goals?

> SAVE LIVES. Innocent bystanders and law enforcement officers

> Reduce the number of misdemeanor and property-crime pursuits

> Develop robust and mandatory Federal tracking for all police pursuit deaths and injuries

> Help law enforcement develop more measured and significantly stricter pursuit policies for their officers

> Share new technologies that will allow for fewer pursuits while still allowing police to catch the bad guys

These goals are simple; making them happen is incredibly difficult. But this effort, too, is part of living our lives in a more meaningful way.

May 27th will never be just another day.

 

 

 

 

 

Scott & Paul Farris – early memories

 

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Thank you, Nancy

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Happy Easter. Happy Pesach. Or perhaps, just Happy Sunday.
In Madison it’s a beautiful, blue sky and sunny day.

My neurons were firing on all cylinders last night. That’s great if you’re sleeping and dreaming, but not so much when you’re awake and tossing and turning.  I thought about a Linkedin request I received a few days ago. “Nancy” wanted to reconnect because she has a new job. Nancy is a friend on FB, so I’ve watched her kids grow up in photos. I wonder if they’re celebrating Easter together today.

Today many families will celebrate. Grandparents, parents, “kids” and grandkids will get to spend precious time together and give thanks for all that is important in their lives. Like these families, ours has many reasons to give thanks. One of the reasons is for the “Nancys” in our lives. Those individuals who share their kindness and love and who have helped us keep precious memories close.

The reason Nancy had my mind buzzing was a note she sent to me in May of 2007, the year that my oldest son, Paul, was killed. Nancy’s email is indelibly etched in my mind because we read it to close Paul’s memorial services in Boston and Minneapolis. And perhaps of even more importance, I’ve read it to hundreds and hundreds of law enforcement officers as we train and explain how a police pursuit decision can inexorably alter lives.

So today, I just wanted to say, “Thanks, Nancy!”


From: Nancyxxxxx@comcast.net
To: Farris, Jonathan
Sent: Mon, May 28, 2007  19:51:05

Hello Mr. Farris,

Please let me start by expressing my deepest sympathy for you and your family. I can’t imagine what you must be going through, really.

I knew Paul for only a short time. I interviewed him for the job he just started two weeks ago, and was amazed in every way with him…I knew before the interview was over that I had to hire him, and furthermore, I wanted him in my unit, and he did start and join my unit.

I’ve worked at MetLife Auto & Home for 23 years…I started there when I was 21. I was nothing like him when I was his age. I’ve never interviewed anyone like him. But I don’t have to tell you, he was your son.

I have 3 sons of my own, ages 5, 9 and 11. I went home after working with Paul after a few days and told my sons all about him, and how amazing this “new guy” was, and how inspired I was by him, and how lucky they would be to grow up to be like him. He was just perfect – smart, motivated, outgoing, handsome, talented, friendly…everything a 23 year old could possibly be. Yes, I only knew him two weeks, but he really touched me, and I am deeply saddened by this.

I didn’t know how to contact you, since the office was closed for the holiday, so I found Cathy C through Google. She gave me your cell phone number, too, but honestly, I could not speak to you right now without breaking down. I am interested in any arrangements that will be made, and I will, of course notify the proper contacts in the Human Resources Dept to contact you. Again, I am so sorry for your and your family’s loss. If you need to reach me, my work number is 800-854-xxxx.
My cell # is 603-xxx-xxxx, and my work email is nxxxxxx@metlife.com. This is my home email, which you can also use.

If there is absolutely anything I can do for you, please let me know, anything.

Nancy

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Criminals’ Photos Should Not Be Included In News Stories

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During February and March of 2018, Jonathan Farris wrote a short editorial / opinion piece. This was sent to several newspapers, both national and local. As of today, none of these opinion pieces have been published.

As a result, we will post the information at the PFC website and work our communications through social media accounts.

Opinion: Criminals’ Photos Should Not Be Included In News Stories

Let me be brief.

People keep killing innocent citizens – every day and in so many different ways. Each day we read and view these stories and mentally live through the tragedy faced by those impacted
people.

Sadly, however, even our finest media sources raise too many criminals to celebrity status – by posting their photos, over and over and over.

For example, why in the world should the face of shooter Nikolas Cruz be highlighted in nearly every newspaper and magazine and television news show?  Doesn’t that simply elevate him hero status for other confused souls? I certainly have no need to ever see his face.

Personally, every single day, I read about drivers arrested for running from police. And regularly these pursuits injure and kill innocent bystanders and law enforcement officers. Yet, way too often, the criminals’ photos lead the story. Why?

Please keep up your ​terrific reporting. The narrative is important. But have the guts to stop displaying photographs and videos of the criminals, because these people are not the ones who deserve recognition and certainly do not deserve to be shown.

Jonathan Farris is founder and Chief Advocate for Pursuit For Change, an advocacy working to change federal and local pursuit policies to reduce innocent bystander and LEO deaths and injuries. Mr Farris’ oldest son was an innocent victim killed in a high speed pursuit in 2007. Learn more at www.pursuitforchange.org.

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

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

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

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

Original story and VIDEO 


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

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

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

Erieyana Holloway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He knows Holloway-Burks’ pain all too well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Now it’s just me all by myself.”

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

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

“It’s not promised.”

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

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

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

Read the vehicle pursuit policies here:

adminRaleigh family hopes teen daughter’s death changes high-speed police pursuit policies
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“Closure”

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By Grieving Dad’s author, Kelly Farley
8/25/2017
Original blog at https://grievingdads.com/blog/2017/08/25/closure-by-kelly-farley/

“Closure”

Losing a child is the hardest thing you will ever do.
You would trade places with your child. In an instant.
But you can’t.
Instead, you ask questions, and there are no answers. Only silence.
You miss them. You love them. But that doesn’t change the fact that you can no longer hold them.
The crushing weight of their absence sits heavily on your chest. Every. Single. Day.

Those that have not lost a child cannot understand your pain. A pain so profound it goes to the core of your being. You feel isolated and alone.
But you are not alone. The road is filled with other fathers like you, trying to survive. Trying to find their way. Any way that points them to a glimmer of hope.
You deal with guilt. You deal with shame. We are fixers, but this cannot be fixed. Only processed.
A dad’s job is to take care of his family. You were your child’s protector. But you couldn’t protect them, not from this, the unthinkable.

Now you’re consumed by grief that no one wants to talk about. A grief that refuses to be ignored.
You know that you’re not supposed to grieve like this. It’s not what you’ve been taught.
Society told us from the time we were young: Toughen up. Take it like a man. Big boys don’t cry.
Let me tell you, men DO cry. It’s essential, the pain must be released. We must take time to mourn.
And asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness.
It is a sign of courage.

You never get over it. You never have “closure,” whatever that is. But you can get through it. Not beyond it, but through it. It is forever apart of your life.
Although painful, you fight to keep your child’s memory alive. We hang on to our memories and ask others that knew them to do the same.

Over time, I’ve learned that this grief is not the enemy.
This pain isn’t something to be conquered or fixed.
Over time, the pain gets better. Less intense. More about love. Less about pain.

The love never goes away.
You never stop loving them.
You start living your life to honor your child, and that gives you hope.
You can survive the loss of your child, but you will be a different person.
There is no going back to the old you. How could you? You know too much.
This kind of pain and love changes you forever.

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Ten Years

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Ten Years

By Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

 

OK, here goes. I need to talk.

On May 27, 2007 our oldest son Paul was killed in a vehicle crash. Some days it seems like yesterday. Other days it doesn’t even seem real.

Walid Chahine, the driver of the taxi in which Paul was riding, succumbed to injuries and died one week later. Paul’s girlfriend, Katelyn, miraculously survived. But she spent months in the hospital and years in rehabilitation before she returned to normalcy.

Why did Paul die? Why did Walid die? Why did Kate nearly die? 

Because an unlicensed driver made an illegal U-turn and then made a conscious decision to run from police. And because a State Trooper made a conscious decision that this particular misdemeanor violation was an important enough infraction to warrant the ultimately deadly, high-speed police chase through the narrow streets of several Boston suburbs.

And so, because of one very stupid individual’s decision to run, two people are dead and too many of us now live with that horror forever.

Ten years.

My family’s life will never be the same. Walid’s family’s life will never be the same. Kate and her family’s life will never be the same.

I’ve spoken about this ad nauseam, but the loss of a child is inexplicable and it rips an immense hole in your heart. Many parents and siblings never recover from such a loss.

Perhaps we are the lucky ones, because we survived? Perhaps.

Ten years. 

Since Paul’s death I’ve researched, reported on and suggested changes for various aspects of problematic police pursuits. I joined the advocacy PursuitSAFETY and later started Pursuit For Change.

Some chases, such as those to apprehend dangerous violent felons, are often necessary. However, the vast majority of chases begin as a result of traffic violations or property crimes such as shoplifting or theft.  Those pursuits are almost always unnecessary. Yet every day there are more. Many, many more.

Federal reporting of ​police pursuit deaths is still not mandatory and there is virtually no reporting of police pursuit injuries. So we must interpolate using information from those agencies and states that do keep reasonably accurate statistics.

Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina who has studied police pursuits since the 1980s, says the actual number of fatalities is “three or four times higher than reported.”  Others think that even this estimate is low. And another complicating factor; bystanders killed after police stop chasing suspects — even seconds afterward — are never counted.

From incomplete National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported data, approximately 360 people are killed every year in police chases. Using these reported numbers, in the ten years since Paul’s death another 3,500+ people were killed. If you interpolate, that number is likely closer to 14,000.

About one third of those killed are innocent bystanders, like Paul and Walid. And more than a fair number are law enforcement officers, killed during or while responding to a police pursuit.

​In that same ten-year period, using woefully inadequately reporting, we estimate that at least five times as many people were injured. That’s more than 17,500 (70,000 if interpolated) individuals hurt, with many of those injuries being life-altering.

The statistics are staggering. The human toll is unnecessary.  AND NEARLY NOTHING HAS CHANGED SINCE PAUL FARRIS WAS KILLED.

Ten years.

Perpetrators flee from police for every imaginational reason. Often it’s due to an outstanding warrant, no driver’s license, alcohol or drugs in the vehicle, or simply out of some irrational fear. Regardless, more than ninety percent of pursuits are for non-violent crimes. All too often law enforcement’s decision to pursue is made instinctually, rather than with clarity and forethought of potential outcomes.

Here’s an excerpt from one law enforcement agency’s emergency vehicle operations manual:

“All personnel operating department vehicles shall exercise due regard for the safety of all persons. There are no assignments or tasks of such importance that they justify the reckless disregard of the member’s safety or the safety of other persons. Members must be mindful of the balance between achieving the goals of law enforcement while maintaining the public’s safety.”  

Public safety. Common sense. Split-second decision-making. Most LEO’s exhibit great strength in these critical skills. However, all too often, these skills are overridden by an officer’s gut instinct to chase anyone who flees, no matter the reason. ​That is what must change.

A police pursuit policy is only as good as it’s implementation. Allowing officers to pursue for any reason puts the fleeing driver, innocent citizens and LEOs at risk.  POLICE PURSUITS ALWAYS ENDANGER PUBLIC SAFETY – ALWAYS

​Most law enforcement agencies need support, additional training and additional funding for alternatives to pursuits, such as pursuit reduction technology.  Pursuit For Change works with technology partners and legislators to enact positive changes and provide sources of funding for LEOs.  Legislators in Washington DC have responded to our requests and have adopted our proposed 2017 Appropriations language. And we will work diligently for additional changes and LEO funding in the 2018 Appropriations Bills.

We need your help. Most substantive Federal, State and local changes occur because citizens like you and me communicate with and teach the decision-makers. Without your voices and stories, change is nearly impossible. And without your voices, many more innocent bystanders will certainly die as the result of non-violent felony police chases.

Ten years.

​My heart aches for Paul every single day. I still have crying meltdowns virtually every week. I am so very sad for all that was taken from Paul. I am so very sad for all that was taken from my family and me.

Ten years.

Please also visit PaulFarris.org to learn more about Paul

Postscript – Pursuit-related budgetary and reporting issues:

  • Consideration of state-level funding for pursuit related technology and LEO training
  • Consideration of state-level funding for police departments that adopt violent felony-only pursuit policies
  • Addition / creation of mandatory state-level tracking for all police pursuits (no injury or death; with injuries; with deaths)
  • Pursuit For Change is working with legislators in Washington to ensure mandatory Federal tracking is enacted
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Rocks 4 Rose

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Remember this name and this date

by Jon Farris, Chief Advocate – Pursuit For Change

Rose Capela DeAngelis-Bio
May 25, 2017

Rose should have turned 18 on this day, if she was still alive. 

But Rose, like so many other innocent victims, was killed as the result of a police chase once again gone horribly wrong.

Here’s the first note I received from Patti, Rose’s mom:

I lost my 16 year old daughter in a tragic and senseless accident. Rose Capela Bio died September 21, 2015 at 1:14am. She died in surgery, after the vehicle in which she was riding in the back seat, flipped multiple times during a high speed police chase begun because the driver didn’t stop when the police tried to pull him over.

All FOUR (4) kids in the vehicle died. Rose was the only one wearing a seatbelt. The other three occupants died instantly, and Rose fought her hardest but was injured so seriously that she too was taken to heaven. I realize this would not have happened if the driver had stopped, but nonethless I will spend my life advocating to end high speed police chases.

Since receiving Patti’s note we’ve remained friends in contact. We are kindred spirits – parents of children killed as the result of a police pursuit.

Rose would have be graduating from high school this year – but no…  So to help with the pain, Patti’s children and nieces started a rock painting group called “Rocks4Rose“. I’ve included a Facebook link below.

Patti tells me that Rocks4Rose is helping Rose’s family and friends with their healing. The group paints rocks and leaves them in places for people to find. Awesome!

From Patti:

We had one lady post saying her friend found one at the foot of the statue of liberty! And another was found in Baja California, so that’s kinda cool. We share Rose’s story on the @Rocks4Rose page on Facebook (http://bit.ly/2pU7Z66) hoping to raise awareness about teens and police chases. If you have a minute, check out the page. 

I highly encourage you to visit Patti’s Rocks4Rose Facebook page and perhaps paint a rock yourself. But even if you can’t paint, please  remember the innocent victims killed. And remember there are thousands upon thousands of people living in pain because they lost a loved one in an avoidable police chase.

@Rocks4Rose

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Police chases not worth risk of tragedy

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Here’s an article published the day of Paul Farris’ death. So tell me, exactly what’s changed in 2016?

Police chases not worth risk of tragedy
May 31, 2007

by Margery Eagan
Boston Globe Columnist

“Here’s yet another question: would you prefer someone driving through Boston erratically at 40 mph, or chased by police, at 70 or 80 mph?”

Explain this, please: Because about 100 children a year are abducted and killed by strangers, we have totally revamped American childhood. Good parents won’t even let children in the back yard alone.
Yet at least that many innocent Americans, including children (some estimate two or three times as many) are killed every year in police chases. And every time I’ve written a column asking if these chases are worth it, the response is the same.
Surely I am insane.
Really?

Two innocent bystanders killed; one permanently injured
The latest police chase tragedy came early Sunday morning when Javier Morales, 29, refused to stop for a state trooper in Everett. Morales made an illegal left turn off Route 16. He had no license and feared jail time for a previous no-license arrest.

Perhaps if he faced greater jail time for refusing to stop for police a penalty many have proposed to reduce these chases Morales, weighing his options, would have made a different choice. To stop.
As it was, Trooper Joseph Kalil chased Morales stolen SUV from Everett to Somerville’s Davis Square, where Morales plowed into a cab driven by Walid Chahine, 45, a husband and father. In the backseat were musician Paul Farris, 23, and his girlfriend Katelyn Hoyt. Hoyt and Chahine [Walid Chahine died at the hospital.] are at Mass. General, critically injured. Farris is dead.
The fourth victim: Trooper Kalil, who must live with what happened for the rest of his days.
So why is it that state police here, and in many other states, chase traffic violators at all? Boston police don’t. Neither do police in many other big cities, in part because of the risk of multi million-dollar lawsuits. Boston’s pursuit standards are higher than those followed by state police: Boston is supposed to chase only violent or dangerous suspects or those driving erratically, possibly because of drugs or alcohol.
Here’s yet another question: would you prefer someone driving through Boston erratically at 40 mph, or chased by police, at 70 or 80 mph?
One more question: Why do we assume that chasing even dangerous criminals is always worth the risk of maiming or killing a pedestrian or family in a minivan?

Myth vs. Fact
The myth, by the way, is that police typically or even regularly chase the dangerous, that there’s a dead body in the trunk, says Geoffrey Alpert of the University of South Carolina, who has studied police pursuits since 1983.
The fact is, between 75 and 80 percent of chases occur after moving violations, says Alpert. They’re mostly young kids who’ve made stupid decisions. The more powerful tool for police? Turn off the lights and siren and it’s more likely the suspect will slow down.
I guess the idea of letting the bad guy get away seems un-American. Perhaps, too, the car chase is too rooted in American legend, from The French Connection to O.J. to whatever live police pursuit Fox and MSNBC can find and broadcast.
And perhaps politicians don’t want to buck police. And then there’s adrenaline: If you’ve heard a chase on a police radio, you know want I’m talking about.
Yesterday Pearl Allen, a retired music and Afro-American studies teacher at John D. O’Bryant School, said what many say who lose family to police pursuits. That if police hadn’t chased, her grandson would still be alive.
Quentin Osbourne, once a standout for the Boston Raiders Pop Warner team, was 15 when he was ejected from a Hyundai Elantra he and six friends had piled into.
The 16-year-old unlicensed driver ran a stop sign. Police chased. He drove into a brick wall.
They were just kids, his grandmother said. (The police) put on the flashing blue light. I think the driver got scared and sped away, and they just kept chasing until they crashed.

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She questioned police version of sister’s death – then fought for the truth

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It is a simple and horrible fact that #PoliceChases affect families across the US every single day. The following note is from a dear friend who lost her sister. We have included the full article by Charlotte Observer reporter Bruce Henderson.

I thought you might be interested in an article published yesterday in the Charlotte Observer. This upcoming week is celebrated as “Sunshine Week” in newspapers across the country. The Observer thought our family’s story would make a good anecdote for an article about the importance of granting the public access to government records–what in Florida was broadened some years ago through a “Sunshine” law.

After the deputy editor spoke with me, he decided that they could make more than an anecdote out of our story. He put another reporter onto it, who asked lots of detailed questions. The resulting article has a few errors and  gaps, but over all it’s the best thing ever written about our family’s experience with an ill-considered police pursuit and our subsequent quest to learn what went wrong.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE (also below)http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article137649608.html#2

For the pursuit issue, keeping careful records and then making those available to the public is of critical importance, as we’ve found. I think we’ve also found that non-compliance with policy on pursuits is associated with other lapses of professionalism on the part of law enforcement. And we’ve seen that these problems are often most pronounced in small town departments. This article illustrates all of that.

Ellen Deitz Tucker

MARCH 10, 2017 9:18 AM

She questioned police version of sister’s death – then fought for the truth

Donna Deitz, 60, and her lifelong friend Kevin Loftin, 56, a former Belmont mayor, were returning from an Ash Wednesday service one night in February 2012. An Acura SUV driven by Lester Saunders Norman Jr., with police in pursuit, smashed into Loftin’s Audi, killing them both. Courtesy of Ellen Deitz Tucker

After learning that her sister had died in her hometown of Belmont, Ellen Deitz Tucker wasted little thought on the driver whose careening car had killed her.

She wondered instead about the local police. Why would officers risk innocent lives by chasing someone at 80 mph?

Donna Deitz, 60, and her lifelong friend Kevin Loftin, 56, a former Belmont mayor, were returning from an Ash Wednesday service that night in February 2012. An Acura SUV driven by Lester Saunders Norman Jr., with police in pursuit, smashed into Loftin’s Audi.

Then-police Chief Charlie Franklin told reporters that officers pursued Norman because his vehicle had nearly struck two officers when he pulled away from a DWI checkpoint. Norman was on federal probation and didn’t have a driver’s license.

Franklin said that Norman, after being captured while running from the crash, had said he didn’t want to return to prison.

Tucker, a writer and editor for an educational nonprofit who lives in California, wasn’t satisfied.

Her search for answers led her to file a lawsuit to win access to a report of an outside investigation of the Belmont Police Department. It also made her story part of North Carolina’s annual Sunshine Week, which begins March 12 and is devoted to access to public records.

“It just seemed to me,” Tucker said, “that the public deserved to know what they paid for.”

The chase

Tucker and her brother, Dan Deitz, questioned what they viewed as the police department’s “highly improbable” account of the pursuit that started on Interstate 85, including statements that Norman had approached a checkpoint at high speed, was drunk and drove toward officers.

Norman’s car initially didn’t move fast as he pulled away from police because it had a bad transmission, Tucker said she learned through a private investigator the family hired.

After exiting the highway, though, the SUV gained speed as it traveled downhill on Park Street toward a busy intersection of Wilkinson Boulevard. Investigators estimated Norman’s speed at 80 mph.

Kevin Loftin, driving west on Wilkinson, was known to be a slow driver. Classical music played on the radio. His car windows were up on a dark, misty night.

The stoplight turned green for Loftin just after it turned red for Norman. Two police cars were a few lengths behind him.

Norman didn’t stop and crashed into Loftin’s car. Loftin and Deitz died at the scene.

Norman was sentenced, after pleading guilty to second-degree murder, to up to 32 years in prison in late 2012. At his sentencing, he had looked at Tucker but said nothing. A year later, he wrote Donna Deitz’ family a neatly penciled letter of apology.

He hadn’t said anything in court, Norman wrote, because “Normally when a person apologizes to the court and the victims, most of the time it’s because they want mercy from the court. Although not all people are like that but the majority are and I don’t want to be looked upon as such.

“I made the absolute worst decision of my life driving away from that license check and it caused two people their lives. I take sole responsibility for that, and it’s a burden that weighs heavily on my heart everyday.”

‘Sad situation’

The crash weighed heavily on Belmont, too. Local connections run long and deep in the town of 10,000 that was founded on cotton mills.

Loftin was a native son who led a controversial $1 million revitalization of downtown Belmont that ultimately cost him his seat as mayor. He took part in numerous church and civic activities.

Donna Deitz, Tucker’s older sister and their parents’ caregiver, was “an upbeat person who brought a lot of joy into the family.”

Their mother is still living at home. But after Donna’s death, Tucker said, her dad, Clyde Deitz, a former 19-year Belmont City Council member and Loftin’s mentor, went silent and died broken-hearted six months later at 99.

A year after the crash, the police department revised its policy on pursuits and check points. Tucker saw little improvement in the new policy, which deleted a “continuing physical threat” as grounds for a chase and replaced it with an explicit list of situations in which one would be allowed.

Franklin, then Belmont’s police chief, said his officers did nothing wrong.

“It’s a sad situation,” Franklin told Charlotte’s WCNC, “but Mr. Norman is responsible, not the Belmont Police Department.”

Public records

It was difficult to get facts about the crash from police, Tucker said, and she found information in press reports to be inconsistent.

Then, a retired police officer working as a private investigator in Charlotte who had seen an account of the crash on television knocked on the family’s door. The investigator, John Faber, also questioned the police actions. The family hired him to dig for answers.

Faber obtained the official police records of the chase and crash, including witness statements, lab reports and videos of police questioning Norman and a passenger in his vehicle. The family says the videos and witness accounts contradicted those of police.

“How does what (Norman) did differ from not caring who you kill to try to catch someone?” Tucker said.

Tucker and her brother sued the city in March 2013, charging that negligence allowed the pursuit to occur. They later dropped the suit.

When she read that Belmont had launched an outside investigation of its police department in late 2014, Tucker sent a 50-page summary of her investigator’s findings to the city manager and council members.

The next summer, she and her brother filed a public records request with the city for the investigation report. The city quickly denied the request, citing pledges of confidentiality given to police personnel that made it unable to release the report.

In August 2015 the siblings sued again with support from the Civitas Institute, which promotes transparency in government. The lawsuit alleged the city broke the state’s open records law by refusing to release the report.

Citizens across the state press for government records to be made public “in a way that would make the most dogged reporter proud,” said Jonathan Jones, director of the Sunshine Center of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition at Elon University.

“What separates (Tucker) is that most folks are turned away by the sheer cost of pursuing this, and she found a way to make it work.”

Procedures ignored

Last August, under a judge’s order, the city released 22 of the report’s 160 pages, some heavily redacted. The internal investigation by U.S. ISS Agency, a private firm, focused on a “massive” number of internal complaints about the department’s management.

The investigation “found the (Belmont Police Department) to be a fractured organization with a corrosive work environment in which employees have been drawn into two camps, which are constantly in opposition based on personal loyalties,” the report said. “Policies and procedural guidelines are routinely ignored or circumvented.”

Investigators found a missing book, dated 2002, that contained highly sensitive criminal case files, drug purchases and confidential informants’ information. They found that most department employees hadn’t gotten raises in several years. The released pages don’t address the Deitz crash.

The report was presented in February 2015. The city fired police Chief Franklin in April 2015 for unsatisfactory job performance and detrimental personal conduct.

“I think I got an overview of the department culture in which something like this could happen,” Tucker said after winning partial access to the report.

Tucker says she has ambivalent feelings about Belmont.

Many people have shown kindnesses, she said. Neighbors fixed things at her parents’ house, and church members visited. But it was also hard to get residents to stand by her as she tried to get answers.

“So I have to say for all this to work, citizens need to care about their neighbor, they need to stick their neck out, sign a petition, attend a meeting, they need to read their newspaper,” Tucker said. “It takes work, not just on the part of journalists but on the public.”

Staff writer Doug Miller contributed.

 

Public records in North Carolina

Jonathan Jones, director of the Sunshine Center of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition at Elon University, said the Belmont case illustrates how hard it can be to pry open public records. Filing a lawsuit, as Tucker did, is often the only option in North Carolina.

“It comes back to what I see as a fundamental breakdown in how transparency laws in North Carolina are working,” Jones said.

“It essentially becomes a dare to take us to court, and if you get taken to court (and lose) there’s not a lot of negative consequences…. Because there’s that court requirement, there’s no real incentive for a government agency to be transparent in the way they should, and in fact no real harm in failing to be transparent.”

Records are often withheld out of misunderstanding of the law or fear of repercussions, Jones said. Belmont’s city council, he said, had the authority to release all or part of the investigation report on its police department. It didn’t.

Bruce Henderson

 

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We Need Much Stricter Sentencing Guidelines for Police Chases

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Picture this. A man runs from the police, with four kids in his car, failing to stop when ordered. He strikes an innocent motorist and then careens into a bike rider, killing him.

Our justice system seems to think that this behavior and outcome deserves SEVEN years in prison. Really?

Mr. Graham’s family and friends were sentenced to LIFE WITHOUT WILLIE.

The system is broken and truly needs fixing.


Story link

Seven years for death of bicyclist during police pursuit with four infants in the car

gavel2ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis man has been sentenced to seven years in prison for fatally striking a bicyclist with his car while fleeing from a traffic stop.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 23-year-old Glenn Parchmon was sentenced Friday.

Parchmon had pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, resisting arrest and other charges.

Police say that last March, Parchmon fled a traffic stop, ran a stop sign, crashed into a car and swerved on a sidewalk where he struck bicyclist Willie Graham. Graham went into a coma and died several days later.

Police say four children, ages 1 to 4, were in Parchmon’s vehicle at the time.

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Only Us

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The following is a blog by Kelly Farley, the author of Grieving Dads: To The Brink And Back. Kelly lost two children. He provides excellent insight to the difficulties of managing our lives after the loss of a child.

Here’s a link to Kelly’s website and this particular blog. I also recommend that you purchase and read his book.
https://grievingdads.com/2016/12/15/only-us-by-kelly-farley/#comment-13958

“Only Us” by Kelly Farley

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Relationships. Knowledge. Inner Peace

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Nov. 14, 2016

Pursuit For Change Chief Advocate, Jon Farris, will be attending WINx 2016 in Chicago this week. 


During the past few years I’ve been significantly more engaged with the law enforcement community. I have to say that the more time I spend with these professionals, the more I am able to balance my perspective about reducing unnecessary police chases while recognizing the needs and challenges LEOs face getting bad players off the streets.

This year I’ve attended many police training sessions, a national police chief’s conference and this week, WINx 2016 in Chicago. So why do this? Perhaps a blurb from the WINx site may help explain:

  • “W.I.N. is an acronym for life’s most powerful question – What’s Important Now? Why are these three words life’s most powerful question? Because of their simplicity and their diversity. W.I.N. is a guiding principle for leadership, training, planning, decision making, personal growth and life.
  • “X is the ‘X’ Factor; the unknown. The unknown is what exactly you will experience during this one day event that will change your life.”

I’m excited to spend time with a group of dedicated law enforcement professionals and speakers. For me, Pursuit For Change and saving innocent bystander and law enforcement officer lives is critical; perhaps now more than ever (WIN).

These events allow me to continue my life-long journey of learning (knowledge). These events allow me to meet and better understand individuals who lead very different lives than I do (relationships).

And, hopefully, personal and Pursuit For Change activities, such as WINx, can bring me greater inner peace to balance everything that life’s tossed in my direction.

http://www.experiencewinx.com

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NEVER. STOP. PUSHING.

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MA police department testing GPS darts to deter chases

by: Stephanie Coueignoux, Jason Solowski Updated:

http://www.fox25boston.com/news/mass-police-department-testing-gps-darts-to-deter-police-chases/462545205

BOSTON – There’s a new high tech device that could help cut back on dangerous police pursuits.  It’s called StarChase and one local police department is the first in New England to equip their vehicles with it.

“Nov. 2 will be the 10th birthday of Paul’s we missed because he’s dead. And it really doesn’t change much. You learn to manage it,” Jonathan Farris says.

The pain of losing his son Paul is still as raw as it was the night he died in May 2007 when Paul was 23 years old. That night, Massachusetts State Police were chasing a suspect through Somerville after he made an illegal U-turn.

”They were in a taxi and they were T-boned by the SUV that was running away from the police officer. Paul was actually ripped from the taxi, died there on site,” said Farris, who spoke with us by Skype from his Wisconsin home.

“I hear the chase and I get a pit in my stomach” said Methuen Police Chief Joe Solomon. He told FOX25 that some weeks his officers respond to as many as five chases each day.

Here in Massachusetts each police department has its own chase policy.  In Methuen, officers can only pursue for a serious offense like a robbery or murder.

“God forbid there was a death and particularly with wrong way drivers, it just leads to too much potential injury” said Solomon.

Solomon is now looking to new GPS tracking technology called StarChase as an alternative to high speed chases. The Methuen Police Department is the first agency in New England to use it.

“If someone starts to take off we activate it at a certain point it arms it. It has a laser control on it.  You aim you fire and it shoots a dart out. It attaches to the vehicle wherever you shot it. “ said Solomon.

StarChase is mounted in the grill of the police cruiser. After the dart attaches to the suspects’ vehicle, the officer can back off and track the suspect.  Solomon tells us when police back off, the suspect usually will stop driving erratically.

He says any police agency can then log into their computer and track the vehicle, allowing them to coordinate with other agencies, and create perimeters miles ahead minimizing the need for an actual chase.

“This is just one more tool in our toolbox that hopefully in the right situation and the right time we deploy it, it could save someone’s life.” Solomon said

According to StarChase, the technology has resulted in an 80 percent apprehension rate, that’s compared to a 70 percent national average. The company also says the technology has resulted in no injuries or death.

Methuen Police gave FOX25 a demonstration on a blocked off road. Three times the GPS training dart stuck to the chase vehicle.  Only once did the device fail to stick.  Methuen police said that could be because of weather, proximity, and officer training.

It’s a situation other police departments have encountered. Dash cam video showed a police officer in Duluth, GA trying and failing twice to attach a GPS tracker to a suspect’s car back in 2012.

The officer continued to pursue the suspect driving at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. The suspect switched lanes, crashed into another car, seriously injuring that driver, and killing himself.

Which is why Farris believes an officer’s judgment still needs to be the first line of defense.

“Part of the whole advocacy idea- I want to change policies. I’d like to see stricter policies in play.” He said

Farris says this technology is a step in the right direction, but until every police pursuit policy is improved, he’s promised to keep fighting.

“I’m hoping someday I hear Paul’s voice in my head saying: You done good, dad. And you can take a rest now. I know he’d be proud.” Farris said.

This technology raises questions about the 4th amendment and privacy.

According to the ACLU, it supports this technology so long as the device is used when there is probable cause, and removed once the suspect is caught.

Methuen Police Officers are now going through training on how to use the StarChase technology. Chief Solomon plans on debuting the system to other police departments on Friday for “New England Public Safety Day.”

 

NEVER. STOP. PUSHING. # .  #

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10 Birthdays

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10 Birthdays

by Jonathan Farris

I live in a different world than many of you.

For ten years my spouse and I have taken November 2nd as a remembrance day. As a rest day. Generally as a be-by-ourselves day.

Our son Paul should be celebrating his 33rd birthday on November 2nd, but because of a truly unnecessary police pursuit, he celebrates no more. Nor do we. Family and friends help keep his memory alive, but there are no more celebrations. 2016 is the 10th no-celebration birthday.

To those of you who have lost a child, I hope that your memories help you find some inner peace.

For those of you who are able to celebrate special days with your children, give them an extra long hug now and again, because life is much more fragile than you can possibly imagine.

PaulFarris.org

Paul’s birthday 1988

Paul’s birthday 1993, with Scott

Paul’s birthday 1995, with Scott, Dan, Ben,
Matt, Kevin & Chris

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The Tears You Can’t Control

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by Jonathan Farris

I’m not a fan of surprises. Not in business and not in my personal life. But as a dad whose son was killed in 2007, my personal life continues to serve up an endless sea of surprises – often in the form of tears.

It doesn’t matter that Paul died nearly ten years ago. It doesn’t matter that we’ve learned to go about our lives without him. The emotion of suddenly losing a child simply never abates. That emotion may not be quite as close to the surface as immediately following the death, but it is always lurking nearby.

A few days ago, while cleaning around the house, I opened a cabinet and found a box of condolence cards. I wanted to read some of them, but I didn’t make it through the first one before another complete meltdown.

It sucks. It’s not fair. But there aren’t any options other than learning to deal with the tears that you can’t control.

Condolence notesBox of sympathy cards and notes from 2007
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Examine police pursuit policies!

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The author of this insightful Op Ed is my dear friend and supporter, Ellen Deitz Tucker. 

Every similar fatality should make us examine police pursuit policies

Posted Jul 27, 2016
http://www.gastongazette.com/opinion/20160727/every-similar-fatality-should-make-us-examine-police-pursuit-policies

Last Saturday I joined the crowd celebrating Belmont’s dedication of a beautiful riverfront park to the memory of Kevin Loftin, a former mayor who dedicated countless hours to bettering his hometown. As Richard Boyce (another former mayor) said, the city honored Kevin’s unifying vision of a park that would give free riverfront access to all.

But at the very same time, the public safety problem that killed Kevin and my sister Donna was replaying itself nearby. A driver pursued for shoplifting was colliding with an innocent driver on Franklin Boulevard in Gastonia. Those bystanders would need hospital treatment. The fleeing driver’s passenger would die in the crash. I would later read that the fleeing thief would be charged with “misdemeanor homicide.”

The man who struck Kevin’s car got a double charge of second degree murder. When I asked DA Locke Bell why, he said, “First of all, this is personal. I knew Kevin well and served with him on charitable boards.”

Since Donna and Kevin’s deaths, every pursuit-related fatality feels personal to me. Study of the issue has taught me that passengers in fleeing vehicles are seldom counted among the innocents who die in pursuits. Passengers are treated as accomplices, even when they are helpless captives in a car driven by a remorseless madman.

The Kevin I knew would say that the life of the woman who died was worth as much as his own. He’d also say that no human life should be put at risk to catch a fleeing shoplifter. Surveillance video and the license plate number would have enabled police to catch this thief later, after he stopped driving.

Ellen Deitz Tucker

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USA Op Ed: My Pursuit To Reduce Police Chases

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My original submission title was My Pursuit To Reduce Police Chases. It was changed by USA Today to Police can kill with more than guns. After additional discussion it was revised to Police chases can kill.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/policing/spotlight/2016/07/28/police-can-kill-more-than-guns-column/86955028/

Police chases can kill: Voices

My son died after being hit during a high-speed chase. Yet there is no tough federal law that regulates how cops pursue.

I’m that dad who received a 4 a.m. telephone call telling me that my son was dead.

Paul Farris was an innocent victim killed when police chased an SUV into a densely populated residential area outside Boston. The SUV crashed into the taxi in which Paul was riding, killing him, killing the taxi driver and critically injuring Paul’s girlfriend. Why? Because police decided to chase a man with a suspended license who made an illegal U-turn and refused to stop when the officer attempted to pull him over. A misdemeanor traffic violation is the reason my 23-year-old son died.

That was in 2007.

Turning anger into action

To manage my grief and anger, I needed to do something other than traditional therapy. I began researching police pursuits. What I discovered was horrifying.

Police pursue suspects in thousands of chases causing hundreds of deaths per year. Yet there are only weak, inconsistent policies regulating proper tracking and reporting of pursuit-related deaths. Between 1979 and 2015, more than 5,000 people were killed during high-speed chases, according to a USA TODAY special investigation published last year. And nearly once a month, a cop is killed in a high-speed chase.

My research has led me to one conclusion: This country desperately needs federal regulations that reduce high-speed chases for suspects who aren’t posing an immediate threat to public safety.

I’ve been fighting for legislative changes since Paul’s death.

The driver who failed to stop for police and who caused the chase that led to my son’s death had been doing little to nothing to endanger the public before the police pursuit started. Despite that, the trooper went after the driver through narrow city streets at 76 mph.

Pursuit policies are incredibly varied. Some jurisdictions allow pursuits only for violent felonies. Other jurisdictions allow police to chase for the simplest misdemeanors. I’ve seen incidents of police chasing someone for shoplifting baby formula. What happened to common sense?

A huge challenge is cross-jurisdictional pursuit policies. Federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies often have conflicting policies. The city in which my son was killed, Somerville, Mass., had a “no-chase” policy. But the more liberal state policy allowed troopers to continue the chase, which had started in a different district. That scenario plays out every day across the country.

Images don’t match the reality

Popular media often hinder realistic public understanding of police chases.

It seems that hardly a day goes by without a dashcam video or helicopter shot of a high-speed chase. Even advertisements try to make police chases look cool. After the 2016 Super Bowl, I challenged Toyota USA over its offensive Prius police chase ad, which featured robbers fleeing police by using the vehicle. Those ads were disrespectful to law enforcement and to thousands of victims of police-pursuit crashes. I connected with several of Toyota’s senior officials. Thankfully, the ads are no longer running.

Over the past several years, I’ve met with House and Senate leaders to create meaningful legislation aimed at saving innocent lives and supporting law enforcement. Language was added to the House Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017 to encourage federal tracking and reporting of pursuit-related deaths and injuries. The bill would also make clear that federal grant monies are available to law enforcement agencies for pursuit reduction technology. I also speak with veteran officers and new recruits at police departments throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin, the states closest to my current home, on reducing police pursuits and saving officer and civilian lives.

If I’m successful, then perhaps my therapy by way of activism will prevent you from receiving an unimaginable and life-altering 4 a.m. phone call.

Jonathan Farris is founder of Pursuit For Change, an advocacy group working to change federal and local pursuit policies by seeking legislation to more effectively track and manage dangerous police chases and helping law enforcement implement pursuit reduction technology. 

 

In addition to its own editorials, USA TODAY publishes diverse opinions from outside writers, including our Board of Contributors. To read more columns, go to the Opinion front page and follow us on Twitter @USATOpinion

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Too Little, Too Late?

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Tullahoma Mayor Calls for Change After Second High Speed Chase Ends in Death

 

COFFEE COUNTY, Tenn. — The mayor of Tullahoma is calling for change after a Coffee County high-speed chase ends in tragedy for the second time in the last month. This time, the crash took the life of a beloved City employee.

“It’s absolutely not acceptable,” said Tullahoma Mayor Lane Curlee.

The mayor is calling out the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department for flying through his town at speeds of 90 miles an hour, “To pursue an individual or vehicle at that rate of speed through a community, there’s really got to be a really powerful reason.”

The sheriff says the reason was that a driver had a busted license plate light and the passenger acted suspicious, hiding from view from a deputy. The license plate violation gave the deputy cause to pursue Driver Kayla Hickey and Passenger Charleston Ortega. The chase ended-up taking the life of Joe Moon, a friend and colleague of the mayor for 40 years.

“I mean enough is enough! It ain’t been two weeks and we’ve got another death,” Mildred Parker, mother of Jessica Campos, the woman who died in the last high-speed chase.

Just weeks ago, Coffee County deputies chased a man who stole a car from a funeral home and that chase also ended in crash that took the life of Jessica Campos, a mother of two young children.

“Her kids, her 7 year old son is crying for her every night,” said Parker. “I mean when is it going to stop?”

Just this week, Campos’ family filed a $10 million lawsuit against the sheriff’s department for the chase that they felt was unjustified.

The sheriff says his investigation found nothing wrong. According to its pursuit policy, a deputy can chase if there’s the possibility of loss of life, serious injury or major property damage.

“What is your reaction to this happening twice now in the last few weeks?” asked Reporter Sabrina Hall.

“Criminals ought to stop,” said Craig Northcott, the Coffee County District Attorney.

The district attorney backs up the sheriff’s department and says he’d only prosecute if a deputy committed a crime.

In pursuits, the Coffee County Sheriff’s department investigates itself on whether a deputy followed protocol when it comes to a high-speed chase.

The Tullahoma mayor and Campos’ family are calling for change.

“They are already are asking questions,” said Mayor Curlee. “What can be done?”

“It’s got to stop,” said Parker.

The 21-year-old driver, Hickey, who fled from deputies is locked-up at the Coffee County Jail. The DA says he plans to hold her and her passenger, Ortega, accountable for the loss of life.

Original article: http://fox17.com/news/local/tullahoma-mayor-calls-for-change-after-second-high-speed-chase-ends-in-death

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Dallas Tragedy: 2 Snipers Ambush, Kill 5 Officers, Injure 7 Following Peaceful Protest

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Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this heinous and hateful crime.

Five officers are dead — four Dallas police officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer — after police say two snipers ambushed and opened fire on police officers at the end of a peaceful protest against nationwide officer-involved shootings Thursday night.These officers have given everything to serve the citizens of Dallas, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families.Ron Pinkston, President, Dallas Police Association

Seven officers and two civilians were also injured in the shootings. All are expected to recover.

“This is a terrible blow to the city of Dallas. This is a terrible blow to the United States of America,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said on the NBC’s “Today” show Friday morning.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said Friday officers cornered a suspect — later identified as Micah X. Johnson, of Mesquite — and tried to negotiate with him for several hours before talks broke down. Johnson told police he was upset by recent police shootings and “wanted to kill white people.”

After an exchange of gunfire, officers attached explosives to a bomb robot and detonated them near Johnson, killing him.

First Seconds: Protest Erupts into GunfireFirst Seconds: Protest Erupts into GunfireA protest against nationwide officer-involved shootings turns violent in Dallas’s downtown area. In the end, five police officers were killed by two men who were in sniping positions above ground, according to authorities. Another 6 officers were injured. (Published 4 hours ago)

Brown said other options to bring the standoff to an end would have exposed more officers to grave danger.

Brown said before the standoff ended, Johnson told a hostage negotiator he was upset about recent shootings involving police officers and that he specifically wanted to kill white police officers. He added that he was not affiliated with any group, carried out the act alone and said police would eventually find the IEDs he claimed to have placed around the city.

Raw Video: Witness Accounts of DPD Officers ShotRaw Video: Witness Accounts of DPD Officers ShotWitnesses tell NBC 5 what they saw after Dallas police officers were shot after a rally in Downtown Dallas Thursday night. (Published 4 hours ago)

Rawlings said police have swept the area where the standoff took place and investigated one suspicious package but found no explosives. Maj. Max Geron, with the Dallas Police Department, said on Twitter the area was cleared and crime scene investigators began processing the massive crime scene at about 6 a.m.

Police said earlier in the evening three other suspects were in custody in connection with the shooting, though Brown and Rawlings said Friday morning they were still investigating and didn’t want to compromise the ongoing investigation by elaborating on who was in custody.

Dallas Police Chief, Mayor 12:30 A.M. Update (Raw Video)Dallas Police Chief, Mayor 12:30 A.M. Update (Raw Video)Dallas Police Chief David Brown and Mayor Mike Rawlings provide a 12:30 a.m. update on the shootings in downtown Dallas. During this second press conference, Rawlings confirmed that he heard from the White House and the Governor’s office. (Published 45 minutes ago)

“I’m not going to be satisfied until we turn over every stone,” Brown said. “If there’s someone out there associated with this, we will find you.”

Rawlings called the shooting Dallas’ “worst nightmare” and asked that all residents “come together and support our police officers.” Brown reiterated that message Friday, asking for prayers and support from the community in the wake of the shootings.

Officers Take Cover After Shots Fired DowntownOfficers Take Cover After Shots Fired DowntownDallas police officers take cover after shots were fired during a protest of nationwide officer-involved shootings, July 8, 2016. (Published Thursday, July 7, 2016)

“We’re hurting. Our profession is hurting. Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All I know is that this must stop. This divisiveness between our police and our citizens,” Brown said. “We don’t feel much support most days. Let’s not make today most days. We need your support to be able to protect your from men like these.”

Scores of Dallas and DART police officers arrived downtown following the shooting, which took place along Main Street between and Market and Lamar streets, a block from the Old Red Courthouse building just before 9 p.m.

Map Credit: The Dallas Morning News
“I saw all the cops were bending over. There had to have been five or six cops, and they were all getting shot down. It was right after the rally, we were walking to the car,” said Cortney Washington, of Dallas. “They kept shooting. It was coming — we didn’t know where it was coming from. And I didn’t see anybody else get shot. It was just the cops. I didn’t see nobody else get shot.”

Twelve officers in all — eight Dallas police and four DART — were shot by gunmen in what police believe to be a coordinated ambush attack that began at 8:58 p.m., at the close of a rally in solidarity with two men killed in officer-involved shootings, one in Louisiana, one in Minnesota.

Dramatic Photos: Deadly Sniper Attack in Downtown DallasDramatic Photos: Deadly Sniper Attack in Downtown Dallas

Video from the scene showed officers taking cover and people in the rally scattering after gunshots were heard.

One of the injured civilians was identified by family as Shetamia Taylor, who was shot while shielding her children from the gunfire, her sister told NBC 5. Taylor’s condition is not known. A male victim was also injured in the shootings, according to City of Dallas spokeswoman Sana Syed. His identity and condition have not yet been released.

2 Dallas Officers Die After Transport to Baylor UMC2 Dallas Officers Die After Transport to Baylor UMCTwo of five Dallas police officers killed in shootings at a protest Thursday died after being transported Baylor University Medical Center. (Published 3 hours ago)

One person was taken into custody at about 11:30 p.m., Dallas police said, following an exchange of gunfire with Dallas SWAT officers. A suspicious package was located near that person, and the package was being investigated by bomb squad personnel. Two other people were taken into custody in connection with a vehicle, Brown said.

Thursday’s protest was organized by Dominique R. Alexander, an ordained minister and the head of the Next Generation Action Network, according to The New York Times. He told the Times the organization “does not condone violence against any human being, and we condemn anyone who wants to commit violence.” Next Generation plans to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Friday to discuss the ambush.

Shooting Occurred After Dallas Rally, MarchShooting Occurred After Dallas Rally, MarchNBC 5’s Cory Smith, who was in downtown Dallas covering the rally, describes the scene during and after the shooting Thursday night. (Published Friday, July 8, 2016)

Brown said it was too early to say whether there was a connection between the attackers and the demonstration.

“I was right there when the shooting happened,” Alexander added. “They could have shot me.”

Officers Salute Fallen PeersOfficers Salute Fallen PeersPolice officers salute their fallen peers outside Parkland Memorial Hospital, where several officers were transported after shootings at a protest in Dallas. (Published 3 hours ago)

Another rally organizer Cory Hughes told NBC 5 the protest was peaceful and as the crowd was dispersing, they heard gunfire. He said the scene turned into “mayhem; we didn’t know where to go.” He added he knew it was a serious situation when he saw officers coming from all directions, carrying rifles and tactical gear.

“They were shots ringing out from what felt like every direction,” Hughes said.

The deceased DART officer was identified as 43-year-old Officer Brent Thompson. He is the first DART officer killed in the line of duty since the transit service formed a police department in 1989. He joined DART in 2009, according to a department statement. Identities of the deceased Dallas police officers have not been released.

President Barack Obama, who was in Warsaw, Poland, for a NATO meeting, condemned the “vicious, callous and despicable attack.”

“I believe I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events and that we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas,” the president said.

Gov. Greg Abbott offered the state’s assistance to Dallas overnight and Obama pledged federal support.

Dallas County buildings, including the George L. Allen Sr. Courts building, are closed Friday, among several closures due to the ongoing police investigation. El Centro College is closed Friday, and classes are canceled due to the police investigation.

The ATF and FBI have joined the investigation, authorities said.

Dallas police released a photo of a man whom they considered a “person of interest” in the shootings. The man, whose identity has not been released, surrendered to police for questioning and was later released.

A witness who posted video to Facebook said he saw at least three officers wounded near El Centro College. (Video is embedded below.)

It is the deadliest day for United States law enforcement agents since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks killed 72, NBC News reported. The shooting comes just over a year after a man opened fire on Dallas Police Headquarters on South Lamar Street. No officers were injured in the ensuing shootout.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE, PHOTOS AND VIDEOS HERE: http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Protests-in-Dallas-Over-Alton-Sterling-Death-385784431.html

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NBC 5 Chicago Investigates – Part 2

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To Curb Deaths, Some Police Make the Choice Not to Chase

Ingrained in every law enforcement officer are a few basic tenets: serve and protect, and catch evildoers before they can do more harm. It’s what they are paid to do, often risking their lives to accomplish those two goals.

But some departments are taking the drastic step of telling their officers to actually let the bad guy get away. That’s because in many circumstances, chasing them is simply too dangerous.

“The threat to innocent life does not justify chasing the vast majority of cars that decide not to stop for police,” says Edward Flynn, Chief of Police in Milwaukee. Six years ago, after a series of high profile crashes relating to chases, Flynn decided enough was enough, and implemented a new policy. Starting in March of 2010, officers were ordered to commence pursuits only for violent offenses.

No traffic violations. No stolen cars.

“In a three month period in 2010, we had four innocent people killed in three accidents,” Flynn said. “In every one of these tragedies the officers had realized the recklessness of the person they were chasing didn’t justify continued pursuit. One was for a stolen license plate!”

But once that pursuit begins, he noted, there is no controlling the missile which is often launched through populated neighborhoods, or streets, in the form of a fleeing car. And even if police break off the pursuit, they can’t control what the fleeing driver does next.

“I mean, I’ve buried officers who were killed in pursuits, alright?” he noted. “If you’re going to risk your life, and run the risk of that person is going to kill an innocent person, then the standard….has got to be a standard that says we’re involved in a crime of violence here. Not simply a property crime or a traffic offense, or some other low level offense.”

The new policy appears to have made a difference in Milwaukee. From 103 pursuit related crashes in 2007, to just 39 last year.

In May, NBC5 Investigates reported the alarming number of fatalities from police pursuits in the Chicagoland area: 141 pursuit-related crashes in the last ten years, resulting in 108 fatalities, and another 216 injured.

But the cases are not always easily defined.

In 2014, 20 year old Freddie Morales was walking to his car, when he was struck and killed by a Wheeling squad car, running with no lights or siren, clocked at up to 109 miles per hour. The officer who hit Morales, argued he was attempting to catch up with a speeder, and had not turned on his lights to avoid triggering a scenario where that driver might flee.

Morales, a pedestrian, was determined to have a blood alcohol level of between .158 and .228. He was killed instantly, and recently, the Village of Wheeling paid out a settlement to his family, of $853,000.

Ironically, under new chief James Dunne, Wheeling’s policy is now remarkably similar to Milwaukee’s. Dunne maintains the officer in the Morales case, who he called an “exemplary” member of his department, was truly only trying to catch up with a speeder, and was not engaged in a real chase. But like Flynn, he said he is concerned about the inherent dangers of police pursuits.

“Our policy is we won’t pursue for property crimes, or traffic,” he said. “It has to be a forcible felony.”

The true metric of any such policy, or course, is a reduction in injuries or deaths. In Milwaukee, two innocent bystanders have been killed since Flynn implemented his stricter policy. Chicago allows chases more often, and here we’ve seen 12 bystanders killed during the same period.

“As an industry, we need to re-evaluate how often we engage in this behavior,” he said. “And if the apprehension, is worth death!”

Published at 11:01 PM CDT on Jul 5, 2016

Original article at http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/To-Curb-Deaths-Some-Police-Make-the-Choice-Not-to-Chase-385643481.html

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Advocates working to change police pursuit policies (WSMV)

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Advocates working to change police pursuit policies

Posted: Jun 30, 2016 9:29 PM CDT
Reported by Heather Hourigan

Original article at: http://www.wsmv.com/clip/12564582/advocates-working-to-change-police-pursuit-policies

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) –Thousands of bystanders and passengers have been killed since the 1980s in high-speed police chases.

One of those happened last week in Murfreesboro when a mother of two was killed instantly when the suspect rammed into her car.

Now her family is wanting to know why her life was taken for a stolen car.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police conducted a survey on thousands of chases nationally. They found 92 percent of pursuits began for a traffic violation, misdemeanor or non-violent felonies.

“I got involved in this in 2007 when my son was killed. I was boggled. I just couldn’t believe the number of them,” said Jonathan Farris, the founder of Pursuit for Change.

It often takes tragedy to bring to light the dangers of high-speed police chases.

“This should have never happened. This right here should have never happened,” said Mildred Parker, Jessica Campos’ mother.

Campos was killed in Murfreesboro when a suspect hit her after a more than 30-mile chase over a stolen car.

“It’s that cross jurisdictional issue,  but someone gave me the number and it’s close to 19,000 law enforcement agencies, and they all have different policies,” Farris said.

Farris lost his son, Paul, in a city that has essentially a no pursuit policy, but the pursuit began in another county.

“My son and his girlfriend were in the backseat of a taxi. That taxi came to the intersection and the perpetrator was in an SUV and just t-boned them. Literally lifted the taxi up and threw it onto a sidewalk,” Farris said.

The chase started over an illegal U-turn.

“That’s when I lost it and decided I need to figure out why this is happening, how it’s happening, and so that’s when I started tracking pursuits,” Farris said.

He found that they are happening too often and for non-violent crimes.

Farris is working for federal regulations making pursuit policies consistent and for violent felonies only.

“No one has done anything with high-speed pursuits for the last 20 years,” said Trevor Fischbach, president of StarChase.

Fischbach is working to develop technology so police don’t have to chase at all.

“It’s mounted to the patrol car,” he said.

It may look like an Inspector Gadget car, but StarChase allows police officers to launch a GPS device onto a suspect’s car.

Statistic show it works, allowing police to track the suspects without having to use high speeds and putting others’ lives at risk. However, it does come with a price tag.

“Today we hear these stories and some are obviously much more tragic than others and this is definitely a tragic one. That is why we are working so hard to provide this technology to agencies,” Fischbach said.

Right now about 100 police agencies are using StarChase, none in Tennessee.

To get involved with Pursuit for Change, click here to visit their website. There is also a petition to help get new legislation enacted.

Copyright 2016 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Toyota Prius Commercial Update – June 28, 2016

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By Jonathan Farris

We were previously told by Toyota USA officials that the final run of Prius police chase advertising would end on June 26, 2016. However, on June 27th several Pursuit For Change followers indicated they saw the commercials again.

I immediately contacted the Toyota USA executive with whom I have been dealing. Here is his update to me, as of June 28, 2016.

I was able to discover the confusion today with our media team. In my previous communications I have asked them about the broadcast flights that support the Prius campaign. This information is what I have shared.

Today I learned that we have evergreen media sponsorships with a few media outlets like ESPN Sports Nation and CBS This Morning. The frequency and weight of these spots is minimal, but they obviously get noticed. The media team doesn’t consider these part of the campaign flight so I didn’t ask the questions as specific as I should have.

I apologize for this confusion.

Based on this new information we have made arrangements to replace the Prius work in these rotations this week. Saturday July 2nd is the final day that any of the spots will show up. We also reviewed other digital video units and those too will be on the same timing.

Again, I’m sorry for the seemingly misleading comments I have given you. This has been a new experience for me to handle and it’s now clear that I simply didn’t ask our media team enough questions about the different ways our media is placed. It’s not as clear cut as simply the broadcast work. It was never my intent to mislead you or your supporters in any way.

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