All posts tagged: Jon Farris

An Unexpected Opinion? Violent Felony Pursuits

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An Unexpected Opinion? Violent Felony Pursuits

by Jon Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The woman, though, wasn’t in the car.

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

That crucial information never made it to deputies.

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

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

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

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

• • •

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• • •

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

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

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

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

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

Blomberg did not stop.

• • •

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• • •

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• • •

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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High speed chases in Lebanon County lead to dangerous crashes

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High-speed chases in Lebanon County lead to dangerous crashes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How often are people hurt or injured in car chases?

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

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

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

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

More: Man killed in police chase accident in North Lebanon

How frequently do dangerous chases occur in Lebanon County?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do police decide whether to pursue?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the official policies of Lebanon County police departments?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do police stop a fleeing vehicle?

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

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

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

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

More: Blotter: Police chase man across three counties

Will the driver get caught?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original story and VIDEO 


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

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

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

Erieyana Holloway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He knows Holloway-Burks’ pain all too well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Now it’s just me all by myself.”

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

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

“It’s not promised.”

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

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

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

Read the vehicle pursuit policies here:

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Revised MPD pursuit policy now in effect

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

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

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

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

Crash Victims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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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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