All posts tagged: high-speed chase

Grand Forks Pursuits Double

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By the numbers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Officers involved

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

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

Sometimes, public property is damaged.

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

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

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

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

‘Reasonable suspicion’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fatal ends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ones that got away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real life vs. movies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delong also was killed after officers fired at him.

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

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

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

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

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The Heartbreak is Real

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Heartbreak

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

 

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

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

Dear PursuitForChange,

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Parents of Ryan Carter

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

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

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

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

Ryan & Jayne. Photo from Denver7 News

Ryan & Jayne. Photo from Denver7 News

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

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

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Another Birthday

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November 2, 2018

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

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

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

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More Milwaukee-Area Pursuits

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

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

 

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

Stolen car leads to police chase, rollover crash

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Highway Patrol mum on deadly US 23/74 wreck report

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By Kimberly King

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

Highway Patrol mum on deadly US 23/74 wreck report

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Why police departments are reconsidering high-speed pursuits

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A veteran Rockport police officer has come under scrutiny after a high-speed chase he led in Union last December ended with a car crash that left two teenagers dead.

See dashboard camera footage of deadly high-speed chase in Rockport

High-speed chases make for great adrenaline-soaked Hollywood action flicks; however, a growing body of research shows that the risks in real life to the officer, suspect and bystanders from pursuits often outweigh the potential benefit of a suspect’s immediate apprehension.

In response to this growing body of research and public concern about safety, a majority of police departments in Maine and nationally have adopted more restrictive policies governing when an officer may engage in a high-speed chase.

The risks

One of the more comprehensive studies of trends in high-speed chases is a 2008 report by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a Chicago-based law enforcement advocacy group. Researchers working with the association examined records of 7,737 pursuits between 2001 and 2007 that 56 police agencies submitted to an online database.

The authors found that a quarter of all high-speed chases ended when either the pursuing officer or suspect crashed. Suspects were most at risk for injury, accounting for 65 percent of all chase-related injuries. The next most at-risk group wasn’t police officers but bystanders, who accounted for 21 percent of chase-related injuries.

Agencies reported that 81 percent of chase-related injuries were minor, while 16 percent of injuries were serious. While fatalities occurred in only 3 percent of chase-related crashes, suspects and bystanders were most at risk for dying as a result of a high-speed chase.

Unlike their long-lasting Hollywood counterparts, most high-speed chases end within five minutes after an officer turns on the blue lights. So the pursuing officer has only a small window in which to resolve the chase safely.

Half of all crashes happen within the first two minutes of an officer engaging in a pursuit, and 83 percent happen within five minutes, according to a 1998 report by the National Institutes of Justice. The fatal chase in Union last December lasted about four minutes before the fleeing suspect crashed.

Some 72 percent of high-speed chases end for reasons beyond the control of the pursuing officers, according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police report. By and large, the suspect has the most control over the situation, with pursuits ending because the suspect willingly stopped, crashed or successfully eluded the officer. Only 9 percent of pursuits ended because the officer discontinued the chase.

“When police agencies consider the costs and benefits of pursuits, they should also note this high level of uncertainty and lack of control that they often have during pursuit situations, which can certainly increase the ante for choosing to pursue,” the report reads.

Restrictive policies

Given the high risk of injury or death for an officer, suspect or bystander during a chase, a majority of departments nationwide since the 1990s have adopted more restrictive policies to limit pursuits. Half of those policies allow pursuits only for more serious offenses, such as violent felonies, according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

The Maine Criminal Justice Academy’s model pursuit policy that serves as the baseline for Maine police departments, for instance, advises officers to pursue a suspect only when he or she poses an imminent threat to the public or if the suspect has committed a violent crime.

Minor offenses such as traffic violations are a no-go for high-speed chases under most circumstances.

“Under many conditions, abandoning a pursuit may be the most prudent decision a law enforcement officer can make,” the policy reads.

It advises further that an officer abandon a chase once the suspect has been identified and the officer is confident the suspect can safely apprehended later.

Even though policies discourage high-speed pursuits for minor violations, only 9 percent of pursuits reviewed as part of the International Association of Chiefs of Police report involved suspects who committed a violent felony.

Police in 42 percent of pursuits were chasing people suspected of violating a traffic law. In another 18 percent of cases, police chased people suspected of driving stolen cars, and another 15 percent of cases involved people suspected of driving while intoxicated.

Pursuit policies, including the state’s model policy, give officers flexibility to determine whether the risks posed by chasing a suspect outweigh the benefits of apprehension. Because officers can easily get wrapped up in the chase, a supervisor has the authority under Maine’s model policy to call off a pursuit at any time if the conditions become too hazardous.

In some cases, pursuing a suspect for a traffic violation may be the most prudent decision. But once an officer switches on the blue lights and gives chase, what began as a routine traffic stop becomes far more dangerous and unpredictable.

Counterintuitively, suspects concerned about the punishment from running from the police are five times more likely to take extreme risks to evade police, according to a 1998 study in the journal Criminal Justice and Behavior, one of the only studies to examine high-speed chases from the suspect’s perspective. Of the suspects surveyed for the study, more than two-thirds who reported they were concerned for their safety during a chase were willing to take extreme risks to evade police. About half of suspects were willing to run at all costs.

“Rather than providing a deterrent effect, thinking about the punishment apparently acted as an incentive to try harder to escape,” the study reads.

In fact, the study suggests the safest way for an officer to end a high-speed chase is slow down and turn off the blue lights. Once the suspect sees the officer isn’t in pursuit, the suspect will resume driving at safe speeds within 2 miles, removing the risk to the public.

After all, a suspect can usually be safely arrested a little further down the road.

Reposted from www.bangordailynews.com by Christopher Burns

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2 killed in high-speed chase in San Bernadino

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Two people were killed in a crash in San Bernardino early Monday after a brief high-speed pursuit by a sheriff’s deputy, authorities said.

A San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy began chasing a speeding black Honda in the city of Colton shortly after 5 a.m., said Eileen Hards, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino Police Department, which is handling the investigation.

The deputy tried to pull the driver over, to no avail, and “backed off the vehicle because he was driving so erratically,” Hards said. The driver continued driving north at speeds estimated at 80 to 100 mph, Hards said.

As the deputy tried to find the driver, he saw “smoke in the distance” and called it in to the Police Department, Hards said.

The Honda sped through a stoplight at the intersection of Rialto and Mt. Vernon avenues in the city of San Bernardino, slamming into an eastbound 2008 Ford Mustang, Hards said.

The vehicles crashed through the fence of the nearby business M&M Alternators, hit its building and came to rest in the parking lot, authorities said. The impact was so great that the Mustang’s engine came completely out of the vehicle and landed in the middle of the intersection, Hards said.

“The Mustang was completely totaled,” Hards said. “It basically took the front end off.”

The driver of the Honda and the male passenger of the Mustang were immediately killed on impact, Hards said. The driver of the Mustang suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital, Hards said. There were no other passengers in the vehicles.

The identities of the vehicles’ occupants had not yet been determined Monday morning, Hards said.

The intersection of Mt. Vernon and Rialto was expected to remain closed for several hours, she said.

Content reposted from www.latimes.com by Hailey Branson

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High speed chases have killed thousands of innocent bystanders

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A death a day from police chases

RUNNING RED LIGHTS AT 100-MPH PLUS

Corrections and clarifications: An earlier version of this story used an incorrect first name for Maj. Travis Yates

More than 5,000 bystanders and passengers have been killed in police car chases since 1979, and tens of thousands more were injured as officers repeatedly pursued drivers at high speeds and in hazardous conditions, often for minor infractions, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The bystanders and the passengers in chased cars account for nearly half of all people killed in police pursuits from 1979 through 2013, USA TODAY found. Most bystanders were killed in their own cars by a fleeing driver.

Police across the USA chase tens of thousands of people each year — usually for traffic violations or misdemeanors — often causing drivers to speed away recklessly. Recent cases show the danger of the longstanding police practice of chasing minor offenders.

A 25-year-old New Jersey man was killed July 18 by a driver police chased for running a red light.

A 63-year-old Indianapolis grandmother was killed June 7 by a driver police chased four miles for shoplifting.

A 60-year-old federal worker was killed March 19 near Washington, D.C., by a driver police chased because his headlights were off.

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Metro Atlanta police pursuits are the latest in a wave of carnage

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Imagine if five innocent bystanders — an elderly couple, a grandmother and two cute kids — were killed in gun battles as metro Atlanta police shot it out with druggies or suspected car thieves.

There’d be one hell of a shinola storm brewing here.

The scenario above didn’t originate from an ambulance-chasing plaintiff’s lawyer or a bullhorn-lugging street activist. No, it came from a bull-necked cop who has become an evangelist when it comes to reining in police on high-speed chases.

For years, Tulsa Police Maj. Travis Yates, has traveled the nation telling fellow cops you don’t have to catch everyone right away. Each chase has a high-stakes risk/reward quotient that cops must almost instantly weigh during stressful moments. His training focuses on making chases more rare and teaching officers to make better choices.

I called Yates after two wrenching cases here in just a few days.

On Thursday, retired doctors Kryzysztof Krawczynski, 77, and Elzbieta Gurtler-Krawczynska, 78, were killed when a Ford Crown Vic speeding away from Johns Creek police plowed into their car. The 47-year-old driver, Larry Thomas, who resembles a dirtball out of central casting, was charged with vehicular homicide and a host of drug crimes. Cops were pulling him over for a tag light before he sped off, reaching speeds of 80 mph in a 4-mile chase.

Three days later, College Park police were chasing a 2015 Chevy Suburban they thought was stolen. The chase lasted 10 miles and ended when the SUV broadsided a Buick sedan driven by Dorothy Wright, 75. Wright and her grandchildren, Cameron Costner, 12, and Layla Partridge, 6, were killed. They were headed to church. The suspect ran off.

“Police pursuit is different,” said Major Yates. “It’s the only police activity where innocent third parties are involved. They might even be 10 miles away when the event starts.”

“It amazes me how quiet we are on this issue and how loud we are on deadly force,” he said.

He’s been involved in countless pursuits himself, from chasing shooting suspects to minor traffic offenses. Chases jack the heart rate, bring on tunnel vision, memory loss and even “auditory exclusion,” he said. “You can’t stop (those symptoms) but you can mitigate them with training.”

He noted police are, rightfully so, obsessed with firearms training. “I’ve been on 23 years, I could have shot several people justifiably,” he said, “but I have never fired my gun.”

+Third victim found nearly 12 hours after deadly police chase and crash photo

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Jets’ Sheldon Richardson pleads guilty in high-speed chase, gets no jail time

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ST. CHARLES COUNTY • New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson on Tuesday was fined $1,050 but escaped jail time for leading police on a high-speed, late-night chase on Highway 40 (Interstate 64) last July.

Associate Circuit Judge Norman Steimel issued the sentence as part of a plea agreement negotiated by prosecutors and Richardson’s attorney, Scott Rosenblum.

Richardson, 25, an O’Fallon, Mo., resident and former University of Missouri star, pleaded guilty to resisting arrest, speeding and running a red light. Those are misdemeanors. In addition to the fine, Richardson must perform 100 hours of community service.

Authorities said he drove a 2014 Bentley Silver Spur at speeds of up to 143 mph while trying to avoid O’Fallon police.

Richardson, who wore a black suit and red shoes to court, declined to comment to reporters Tuesday.

Later, Rosenblum, his attorney, said “he absolutely understands his behavior was not responsible. In fact, he sold his Bentley, so I don’t think he’ll be going 143 miles an hour anymore.”

Rosenblum added that Richardson recognizes that “he made a really poor choice.”

In the July incident, police said, an officer tried to stop Richardson’s car on the highway but Richardson exited at WingHaven Boulevard and sped through a red light to flee.

Police caught up with him after he pulled into the driveway of someone else’s home in a nearby neighborhood.

A 12-year-old male relative and two adult men also were in Richardson’s car, police said. After being stopped, police said they found a loaded semi-automatic handgun beneath the floor mat on the driver’s side and also detected “a very strong order of burned marijuana.”

 Prosecutors said Richardson possessed the gun legally and added that there was not enough evidence to file charges of drug possession or child endangerment.

As part of Richardson’s plea deal, the judge placed him on probation for two years on the resisting arrest charge. After the two-year period, the conviction would be removed from his record.

He also pleaded guilty to two minor traffic violations that were reduced from misdemeanors.

Richardson, in a news conference in the New York area shortly after charges were filed, apologized to his teammates, the Jets organization and his family.

He had already been suspended by the National Football League for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy before the high-speed chase came to light and charges were filed.

Rosenblum said Richardson is unlikely to face any further league discipline because of the road race incident.

Source

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USA TODAY: Police chase deaths are up in 2014

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The number of people killed in high-speed police chases surged in 2014 to its highest level since 2007 despite efforts by police departments to reduce the risks of people getting killed and injured, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

A total of 385 people died in motor-vehicle crashes in 2014 that occurred while police were chasing a vehicle, up 16% from the 333 people killed in 2013, the USA TODAY review of federal records shows.

“A huge percentage of these deaths are unnecessary,” said Jonathan Farris, former chairman of PursuitSAFETY, which advocates to restrict police chases and improve reporting of chase-related deaths and injuries. Farris’ son Paul, 23, was killed in 2007 near Boston by a motorist being chased for a traffic violation.

Approximately 73 of the people killed in 2014 were bystanders — mostly people in their own cars that were hit by a fleeing motorist — and 77 were passengers in the fleeing vehicles. Twelve of those killed were children age 14 or younger, including an infant who had not yet turned one. Five were police officers.

Thousands more people were injured in the chases, which usually begin for minor infractions such as traffic violations. Although the federal government does not count injuries in police chases, five states that do keep track reported that a combined total of 1,764 people were injured in 2014 in their states.

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USA TODAY: FBI vastly understates police deaths in chases

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation has drastically understated the number of police who have been killed in high-speed chases, counting only 24 deaths since 1980 despite records showing more than 370 officers killed in vehicle pursuits in that time span, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

At least 371 police officers were killed in chases from 1980 through 2014, according to a USA TODAY analysis of the U.S. Transportation Department database of fatal vehicle crashes and records of officer deaths maintained by two private police-memorial groups. That’s more than 15 times the number of chase-related deaths than the FBI counts, and makes chases the fifth-leading cause of police deaths, USA TODAY found.

The undercount is one of the most extreme examples of the federal government’s inability to accurately track violent deaths, and has led the FBI to minimize the danger of police chasing motorists, often at high speeds and in dangerous conditions, at a time when many police departments are restricting or considering restricting vehicle pursuits.

“The fact that these numbers have been undercounted further emphasizes the magnitude of the problem and the need for sensible restrictions on pursuit driving,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a think tank on law-enforcement issues. “This is important for the safety of officers and citizens alike.”

The FBI did not dispute USA TODAY’s findings and said it started taking steps in 2010 to improve its count of officers killed in police pursuits, but has yet to publish new information.

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