Hamilton County Police Association (Cincinnati Metro Area) Police Pursuit Symposium / WCPO interview
Jon Farris, Chief Advocate for Pursuit for Change, was a featured presenter at the August 19, 2020 Cincinnati Metro Area Police Pursuit Symposium.
Jon spoke about being a grieving father, a police pursuit victim, an advocate for reducing pursuits, a cheerleader for Pursuit Reduction Technology and a strong supporter of law enforcement. This was an excellent, three-hour symposium with tremendous involvement by over 60 command-level officers from throughout the county. Thanks to Lt. Steve Saunders from the CPD for allowing me to participate.
Additionally, Jon was interviewed by Craig Cheatham, Executive Producer/Chief Investigative Reporter of the WCPO 9 I-Team in Cincinnati. Thanks to Craig for this terrific update.
Sadly, in our current all-too-divisive country and world, many people will read this article and say, “So what, it was just some illegal aliens.”
So to them we say, those were REAL PEOPLE. They had/have families and friends who love them.
How would you feel if a drunk was driving your family or friends and made the stupid decision to flee? This happens regularly. Would it be OK if police chased and as a result YOUR FAMILY was killed or grievously injured? No, it would not be OK.
YOU WOULD BE OUTRAGED.
The Border Patrol chases regularly, and with impunity. This is wrong. Many, if not most of those pursuits, could be eliminated with a stricter and smarter pursuit policy, significantly more driver training for Border Patrol Officers and much greater usage of Pursuit Reduction Technology.
Border Patrol Agent Speaks Out About A High-Speed Chase That Ended In An Immigrant’s Death
by Debbie Nathan
February 28 2020, 7:00 a.m.
A FEW MINUTES BEFORE midnight on January 29, an Ecuadorian man was killed in a car crash near downtown El Paso, Texas, only yards from the U.S.-Mexico border. An Ecuadorian woman was gravely hurt and weeks later is just emerging from a coma. She’s missing part of her skull and half of her body appears to be paralyzed. Stuck in a hospital thousands of miles from her kin, she has had few visitors, but one has been a Border Patrol agent who feels grief-stricken by the accident and believes the Border Patrol played a major role in causing it. The agent recently had an emotional meeting with a family member of the severely injured woman and offered to testify if the family brings a lawsuit.
Police reports say the crash was caused by a drunk driver who picked up the Ecuadorians after they crossed into the U.S. illegally. The driver is said to have been a smuggler who was speeding to evade the Border Patrol, and crashed because he was driving too fast. But the agent says that the chase was improper. It occurred near downtown El Paso on West Paisano Drive, on a section of road so prone to crashes that local law enforcement officers call it a “deadly curve.”
by Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change
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.
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.
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.
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 thelead singerof 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.
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.”
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.”
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A grand jury has found police chases in Los Angeles are causing “unnecessary bystander injuries and deaths”and recommended police and sheriff’s officers undergo additional training to reduce the likelihood of crashes during pursuits, according to a report released Tuesday.
The Los Angeles County civil grand jury report found three people were killed and 45 people were injured during 421 pursuits in the county from October 2015 until 2016 and concluded that most of the pursuits were not provoked by serious crimes.
The report, citing information from the California Highway Patrol, found that 17 percent of pursuits ended in crashes with the possibility of injuries or death. Sixty-seven percent of the pursuits ended with arrests, the grand jury found.
The grand jury also found that neither Los Angeles police nor sheriff’s officials have policies in place for recurring or continued vehicle pursuit training.
“Police pursuits are inherently dangerous and that is why the Los Angeles Police Department takes every step to develop tactics and mitigate the risk posed by these dangerous interactions,” Los Angeles police spokesman Josh Rubenstein said in a statement. “We are constantly reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure they support what we value the most: the preservation of life.”
The report also criticized the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department’s training facility, saying it was “substandard.” A sheriff’s official said the department is in the process of acquiring a new training center for emergency drivers.
Deputies receive annual training on the department’s pursuit policy and also undergo emergency vehicle training every two years, sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gage said. The sheriff’s department – the largest in the U.S. – has one of the most restrictive pursuit policies in the nation, Gage said.
The policy only allows deputies to pursue drivers for serious felony offenses, confirmed stolen cars or potentially reckless drunken drivers,Gage said. The department’s policy expressly prohibits deputies from chasing someone fleeing after being stopped from an infraction, he said.
“We’re always looking to do better and have more training in this field,” Gage said. “There’s nobody that’s going to say the training is enough for our folks.”
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.
adminGrand Jury: Los Angeles Police Pursuits Cause ‘Unnecessary’ Injuries, Deaths
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.
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.
NORTH VERSAILLES, Pa. —Four days after a police chase ended with three people killed in North Versailles, investigators continue to piece together what led up to the deadly crash.
Surveillance video from a business along Route 30 obtained by Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 shows the suspect’s white car speeding down the road toward Route 48 just minutes before the crash. A North Versailles police cruiser can be seen trailing the car by only a matter of seconds.
Detectives from the Allegheny County Police Department have been working to obtain that video while investigating the incident.
Many have also questioned whether officers should have been pursuing the car. The suspect, Demetrius Coleman, was wanted for felony probation violation related to a drug charge, but not for a violent crime.
North Versailles police have not revealed their policy for initiating or continuing a chase. An officer reached at the department Monday said the chief would not be in until Wednesday.
East McKeesport police chief Russell Stroschein released his agency’s policy early Monday. It limits pursuits to “those situations which involve the attempted apprehension of persons wanted for the commission of felonious acts that threaten, have threatened, or will threaten the health, life, or safety, of a person.”
Jonathan Farris, founder of Pursuit for Change, a group that advocates for changes to police chase policies, said from the information he has seen, he doesn’t believe the North Versailles pursuit was justified.
“There was nothing going on at that point in time that made that person dangerous enough to instigate a pursuit which put other people in danger, and in fact ultimately killed three innocent citizens,” Farris said.
His group recommends that chases be reserved for violent offenders, and that police departments employ better technology to stop fleeing suspects without having to pursue them. Also, he believes police departments should better coordinate their policies to line up with each other.
“They need to have more consistency,” Farris said. “This is really important within a geographic area, because what often happens is there isn’t consistency.”
Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 called every North Versailles township commissioner Monday. No one would speak on camera about the crash or their police department’s policy, but some did say the issue would be a major topic at their next meeting.
The Allegheny County district attorney is also gathering information about the case, and could make a statement on it later this week.
adminInvestigators continue to piece deadly chase and crash together
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.
“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.
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.”
I’m an advocate. I work to reduce bystander and officer injuries and deaths caused during pursuits. As a result I typically focus on pursuits gone wrong or those I consider to be dangerous or unnecessary.
However, please do not think that I harbor ill will to the law enforcement community. I do not. In fact, it’s just the opposite of that.
Over the past several years I’ve had a chance to work with a number of amazing law enforcement professionals. These folks are dedicated to saving law enforcement officer (LEO) lives, which in turn will save innocent bystander lives.
Weapons-related incidents and shootings are most often picked up by the media, but in a typical year more officers are injured or killed while in their squad cars. That often happens due to lack of seatbelt usage, driving faster than is reasonably safe, police pursuits of all types, and more.
Even though there are still too many unnecessary pursuits in which innocent bystanders or LEOs are hurt or killed, this represents a minuscule percentage of total miles driven by officers annually.
So let me simply say “THANKS” to law enforcement professionals across the globe. I could not do your jobs; but know I am personally grateful that you can and do.
Pursuit For Change Chief Advocate, Jonathan Farris, will be attending the 2016 IACP Annual Conference and Exposition in San Diego.
Please contact him at Jon@PursuitForChange.org if you are attending and able to meet and visit. Jon will also attend this year’s Highway Safety Awards Breakfast on October 18th. We hope to see you there.
Each day we read about many police chases. A huge number of those are to pursue stolen vehicles.
Chasing a stolen car or truck ALWAYS puts innocent bystanders at risk of injury or death. At Pursuit For Change we talk about that issue all the time. And as a result, we continue to push for stricter pursuit policies allowing chases for only violent-felony crimes and not for misdemeanors or property-related felonies.
Of course, nearly every time an innocent bystander is hurt or killed, that jurisdiction (city, county or state) can expect to be sued. Often the settlements, after years of litigation expenses, are in the millions of dollars. This is yet another reason to pursue only violent felons who are posing an immediate threat to the public prior to and throughout the chase.
However, very few in law enforcement and the media discuss the monetary and social implications of non-injury pursuits.
Much more often when law enforcement chases a stolen vehicle, the bad guy is apprehended after crashing that stolen car or truck. Well at least there are no “injuries” other than those of the thief, right?
Perhaps that’s not really the case.
Every police chase that results in a crash costs the innocent citizen. Yet this is hardly ever talked about. Think about this following scenario.
A thief steals Ms. Goodperson’s 2008 Chevrolet Impala one night. The next morning, when Ms. Goodperson heads out to work, she’s appalled to find that her car is gone! She calls the police and reports the theft.
Several hours later an officer spots her stolen vehicle, driving at the speed limit down a local street. The officer attempts to pull the vehicle over, but instead of stopping, the bad guy speeds away. The officer makes a decision to engage in a high-speed chase.
In this case, after a dangerous pursuit lasting ten minutes and speeding through intersection after intersection, the thief loses control of the car and crashes into a telephone pole. Luckily, no innocent bystanders are hurt.
Now, if Ms. Goodperson is lucky enough to have auto insurance (comprehensive coverage specifically), then she can report the theft to her insurance company and get a settlement for that theft.
In our example, this 2008 Chevrolet Impala has a retail market value in the $5,000 to $6,000 range. Assuming the vehicle is indeed totaled during this police chase, then Ms. Goodperson can (hopefully) just pay her deductible and the insurance company will be out several thousand dollars.
But what if Ms. Goodperson is more like so many fine, hard-working folks across the country. She struggles to make her family’s financial ends meet every month. So she is regularly forced to make difficult decisions where every single dollar is spent.
A few months back, Ms. Goodperson spoke with her insurance agent and decided to save some money and drop comprehensive insurance coverage on her eight year old car. This, too, is a very common scenario in the insurance world.
Because Ms. Goodperson no longer has comprehensive insurance coverage, she immediately becomes a different type of innocent citizen when her car is stolen and crashed during a police chase. Now all expenses related to the stolen car must be born by the owner.
What does that mean? Well, Ms. Goodperson is about to get a really bad deal.
She has no insurance to cover the replacement of or repairs for her car.
It is very unlikely that the thief has any financial assets, so even if Ms. Goodperson receives a legal judgment against him, she will never recover a nickel.
She will also have to pay for the replacement of any damaged or missing belongings that were in the stolen car (these may be covered by her renters or homeowners insurance).
Because her car was “recovered”, she will now need to pay for towing or transport to her home or to a repair shop. (Here is a real-life case where the owner is being forced pay to transport her stolen vehicle from Oklahoma to Minnesota. goo.gl/FWjeMz)
Law enforcement is typically not liable for any damages to a pursued vehicle.
Between the time Ms. Goodperson’s car is stolen until she is able to repair or replace it, she still needs to get to and from work. Those expenses must ultimately be paid for by the victim.
If she is unable to find alternative transportation, then there is a very real possibility that Ms. Goodperson could even lose her job.
The bottom line is that many stolen car police chases end up in crashes costing the victims an immense amount of time and untold aggravation. Plus, the victim and / or an insurance company, will be out thousands and thousands of dollars. Bad deal.
We know there are alternatives to chasing stolen vehicles, such as pursuit reduction technology. That seems like a much smarter investment for a city than having to settle a lawsuit from a pursuit gone bad or for adding truly unnecessary expenses to non-injured vehicle theft victims.
There are always losers and never winners for these types of pursuits.
Rockdale County, GA — Have you ever found yourself caught in the middle of a high speed police chase?
Though they may be entertaining to watch on television, police pursuits often end in violent collisions that kill or injure thousands of innocent bystanders and police officers each year.
Now, a new technology could change the way officers go after suspects and prevent these risky chases from ever occurring.
These accidents are a leading cause of injury, death, and lawsuits involving police officers, and can cost taxpayers an average of $3 million. But officers aren’t the only ones at risk during a high speed chase.
High Speed Chase Is Not Entertainment
Sheriff Eric Levett, in Rockdale County, Georgia, says anyone can be a victim of a police pursuit.
“With chasing, anybody can pull out in front of you, your breaks can fail, there’s a lot of different things that can cause some type of danger to the deputy and or the community,” he explained.
Jon Farris learned the hard way that in a matter of seconds, anyone can be a victim. His 23-year-old son Paul was on his way home in a cab when a vehicle pursued by police crashed into him at more than 70 miles per hour.
The state trooper went after the driver for making an illegal U-turn, despite the city’s no pursuit policy for any crime other than violent felonies. The officer faced no reprimand because according to state police rules, he was within his right to pursue.
An overwhelming number of police pursuits are started over non-violent crimes and escalate quickly, endangering the suspect, the policeman, and any bystanders along the way.
“Two or three seconds earlier, two or three seconds later than the timing of that pursuit and my son would be alive, so it’s just random,” Farris said. “I didn’t know where to go, I didn’t know what to do after Paul died, so I started researching police pursuits.”
He found on average that one person dies each day as the result of a police pursuit, a third of those deaths being innocent bystanders.
An FBI report uncovered that the true cost is probably two to three times higher than the stated average because pursuit fatalities are only reported at the discretion of law enforcement.
No government agencies track injuries from pursuits, leaving no information on police officers and bystanders paralyzed, brain damaged, or suffering from other life altering injuries.
How It Works
In order to cut down on high pursuit casualties, authorities like Sheriff Levett are investing in new technology known as Star Chase.
“I know that this technology has been a great investment, from the times we’ve launched this GPS tracking unit we have had a successful capture rate,” Levett said.
Star Chase allows officers to deploy a tracking device on vehicles without the driver knowing they’ve been tagged. For about $5000 per vehicle, officers can secretly but safely catch cars on the run.
Officers can deploy the tracker while they are behind a car they are pursuing or from outside their vehicle if a car they pulled over decides to flee. Drivers cannot feel the tracker hitting their car, so they do not know they’ve been tagged.
As the suspect thinks he is no longer being pursued, the officers begin their stealth pursuit, pulling up a map of the suspect’s location and alerting fellow law enforcement where the car is heading.
In most cases the suspects slow down to safer speeds because without the police car following them, they think they have gotten away, letting fellow drivers and bystanders avoid being in the middle of a high speed pursuit.
“When you can launch something and you can track it, you can discontinue the chase and just begin tracking the vehicle. You can apprehend the vehicle and or the suspect later,” Levett said.
So far, only a handful of Rockdale patrol cars have Star Chase, but Levett wants to invest in more Star Chase vehicles because of its success rate.
‘No Injuries’ with Star Chase
“We’ve captured everyone from the ones that we’ve launched,” Levett said. “No injuries to the deputy and no injuries to the community or citizens.”
Most departments rely on decades old tire spikes to stop chases, but even they are rarely used because of the danger involved. Police must also know where cars are heading.
One Rockdale County Police Officer explained the potential dangers to the officer when deploying spike strips.
“Trying to deploy stop sticks sometimes is very dangerous, especially if you put them out and the car swerves toward you, I’ve seen several videos of officers getting struck trying to deploy spike strips,” the officer said.
Levett admits new technology can be expensive, but he says it’s nothing compared to the cost of chases gone wrong.
“When you talk about the fees, the car is possibly going to be totaled, but the deputy was also life lighted to a nearby hospital,” he said. “So your incurring the fees of you know, air ambulance, your incurring the fees of him being hospitalized, and then aftercare where he’s going to go to therapy or just going to the doctor.”
“And not only that, the agency is losing a man or a woman that is down for weeks,” he added.
Levett says providing officers the right tools protects their safety as well as the citizens.
“Behind the badges of those who put on this uniform are humans,” Levett said. “They walk out the doors kissing their loved ones, telling them that they love them not knowing if they’re ever going to return back to the house again because they are leaving that home to protect and serve the people of their city, their county and this great state.”
“I want the people to know that we’re out here doing the best that we can, and all we want to do is protect and serve you,” he said.
Since his son’s death, Farris has worked hard to raise awareness of this issue on a national level. He started an advocacy group called Pursuit for Change, which encourages lawmakers to dedicate funding for increased pursuit safety and training,
The group also wants mandatory reporting for all police pursuits and rethinking of the current pursuit policies in hopes of preventing more unnecessary lives lost, like his son Paul’s.
“If we can get changes that will save a life a day, that’s a pretty big deal,” Farris said.
**Help Jon Farris in his efforts to prevent unnecessary police pursuits by signing his Change.org petition here**
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.
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.
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.
FLINT (WJRT) – (03/14/16) – A 6-year-old girl and her uncle are still in critical condition at Hurley – innocent victims of a police chase that ended with a crash.
It happened late at night March 6 on a busy street on Flint’s north side. Police tried to pull over a woman for driving without a license. Instead, she took off – hitting a car with five people in it.
“I keep praying to God to heal my baby and heal my brother,” said Mary Saunders, whose daughter is in critical condition at Hurley Medical Center.
Mary’s brother, Antonio, was also hurt in the crash. Antonio is showing signs of improvement – moving his eyes and feet – but doctors say 6-year-old Malaysia has a traumatic brain injury; she’s still unresponsive.
“I can’t hear her voice, I can’t see her move,” Mary said.
Mary was in the car with Malaysia, Antonio, Antonio’s girlfriend and her baby. They were coming home from the laundromat. Michigan State Police were trying to pull over a woman on Carpenter Road on Flint’s north side. As soon as she saw the sirens and lights, she took off, hitting Mary and her family’s car.
“I just can’t believe something so simple would cause someone to risk hurting someone else, taking that chance,” Mary said.
Now, Mary is visiting her brother and daughter at Hurley every day. Her uncle, Louis, came in town to help the family out and is shocked at what happened.
“As a family, we are pro-police, we appreciate what they do for us in our community. But we also have to question the law in this particular instance. Was it worth it for what this lady did to put our family in jeopardy?” Louis said.
“I just ask people to pray for my baby and I just want justice,” Mary said.
The woman who hit the family was in jail for 48 hours, then released. Genesee County prosecutors say the case is still under investigation, and they’re waiting for a police report.
In 2005, 21-year-old Guillermo Mendoza, an innocent bystander, was killed when Dallas police officers were chasing a drug suspect and crashed.
Mendoza’s brother told News 8 at the time his brother died for no reason.
“This time, it was my brother,” he said. “Next time, maybe someone else.”
Mendoza’s case was one of the reasons then-police chief David Kunkle changed the pursuit policy in 2006. He made it one of the most restrictive policies in the nation, allowing officers to only chase violent felons.
DISD Police Chief Craig Miller was with DPD at the time.
“It gets back to, is what they have done wrong enough to put our lives and citizens lives and that person’s life in jeopardy to pursue them?” Miller said.
In 2005, the year before DPD changed its policy, there were 354 chases — almost one a day. Twenty-one officers and 21 civilians were injured in the pursuits.
Since then, chase numbers have dropped dramatically and there has only been one person killed in a pursuit since the change.
“As police officers, we are issued weapons and we have bullets in them and we use them in situations where we are put in a position to use deadly force,” Miller said. “A vehicle is no less deadly in an incident that causes harm to someone.”
Yet, many law enforcement agencies won’t change their policies, under pressure from officers who believe not chasing lets bad guys go free.
Chief Miller adopted the Dallas police chase policy at DISD. He says the risk of catching minor offenders isn’t worth the risk to public safety.
Yesterday, Mesquite police chased after suspects accused of credit card fraud at a hotel. Those suspects then crashed into a school bus full of elementary students.
Luckily, no children were hurt.
Mesquite Police Chief Charles Cato did not return our phone calls or messages Friday. We wanted to ask him if he would take a look at changing the department’s policy to match the Dallas Police Department’s.
DALLAS — A police pursuit ended Thursday afternoon when the suspects’ vehicle crashed into a school bus in northeast Dallas.
The chase began at a Fairfield Inn and Suites on the 4000 block of Towne Crossing Boulevard in Mesquite around 2:15 p.m., police said. A Mesquite police spokesperson said Thursday night the suspects were wanted for credit card fraud at the hotel.
The suspects, who have not been identified, crashed into a Dallas ISD school bus near the intersection of Skillman Street and Abrams Road in Dallas around 3:15 p.m.
“I was scared and I jumped out of my seat,” said fourth grader Pauvan Mung.
Two male suspects were apprehended at the scene and a female suspect was arrested later at the hotel.
There were approximately 60 children on the school bus, according to the company that operates the school district’s buses. No injuries were reported.
“We were turning left, and then the car was at maximum speed,” said fifth grader Kimberly Arreola. She says a red car hit the back left corner of the bus.
The school bus came from Hotchkiss Elementary. A different bus was sent to pick up the children and complete the route.
“We didn’t know what was happening, so the bus driver stopped and went outside and it was, like, an accident,” Mung said.
Many say it is amazing no children were hurt, but plenty were shaken and upset as they waited for their nervous parents to come pick them up. The story behind this crash was no source of comfort.
Mesquite police say staff at the Fairfield Inn at I-30 and 635 called Thursday after 2 p.m. about a group of people using a stolen credit card. When officers arrived, two suspects drove off in a red car, starting the chase that lead them to northwest Dallas. That pair was arrested after the crash, and a third suspect was handcuffed back at the hotel hours later.
By then, at the scene, the crash had been cleared and the kids had calmed down.
“I think it’s okay,” Mung said. “We are safe.”
But it’ll likely be a restless night for many of their parents, left wondering if this chase that risked their kids lives was worth it.
News 8 has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Mesquite Police Department for a copy of their policy on police chases.
SHAWANO, Wis. — – A 29-year-old Pulaski man was taken into custody early Friday morning after leading law enforcement on a high speed chase through three counties. His name has not been released.
The Shawano County Sheriff’s Office was carrying out an attempt to locate from the Brown County Sheriff’s Office and found the vehicle around 11:30 Thursday night, according to the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department. They tried to stop the man, but he did not stop and proceeded to drive 86 miles through Shawano, Waupaca and Marathon Counties, the Sheriff’s office said.
The Marathon County Sheriff’s Department eventually stopped the vehicle and arrested the 29-year-old.
The number of high speed chases is on the rise in Wisconsin, according to the USA Today Network. It found the number reported last year was a record high.
However, that doesn’t mean the public is at risk. Law enforcement has specific protocol to determine whether or not to pursue a high speed chase.
“The amount of traffic on the roadway we have to consider, the demographics of the area of the pursuit,” said Wisconsin State Patrol Officer Scott Reignier.
“Is it happening in a city, in a residential area, out in the country?”
The Shawano County Sheriff’s department, involved in the chase overnight, knows how dangerous those chases can be.
“We lost a deputy a couple decades ago, he was responding to a high speed chase,” said Adam Bieber, Shawano County Sheriff.
“So our officers, our deputies, our administration know full well the dangers of high speed chases.”
Safety of both officers and the public is the number one priority for law enforcement.
“There are a lot of things to consider when being involved in pursuit, the most important being the danger to the public and reasonable safety,” said Scott Reignier, Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper. “At what point does the pursuit become more dangerous to the public than the actual behavior of the violator.”
The man involved in the overnight chase will be charged on a few different counts in Shawano and Marathon Counties, according to Shawano County Sheriff Adam Bieber.
A recent car chase in Topeka that took the life of an innocent woman must be analyzed.
The chase, which was conducted at relatively low speeds, concluded with a horrific crash, which killed a passenger of another vehicle.
What started as an attempt to pull over the driver of a vehicle found to have a faulty taillight prompted an 11-minute chase, mostly through North Topeka, before the driver crossed the Kansas River and eventually caused a three-vehicle crash at S.W. 6th and Topeka Boulevard.
The end result of this pursuit, which began about 5 a.m. Feb. 8, contributed to the death of a passenger in another vehicle. The unintended outcome was devastating.
The charges now faced by Sherman N. Jenkins, including first-degree murder, are appropriate.
The reckless actions that led to the death of Mia Holden are reprehensible.
Holden, 34, was the single mother of five young children. They moved to Topeka from Pennsylvania, according to a GoFundMe account arranged to defray the cost of funeral and travel expenses. According to that account, Holden was en route to an outpatient surgical procedure at the time of the crash. Donations can be made through the GoFundMe account, which also lists other methods to contribute to Holden’s family.
In light of this tragedy, the Topeka Police Department must diligently review the chase and determine if additional measures could have been taken to protect the innocent.
The most important factor prompting any chase is the nature of the crime. In this instance, the tags on the vehicle in question did not come back clean, which made the chase of the stolen truck justifiable.
In addition, two tire deflation devices placed at the south end of the Kansas Avenue bridge, which Jenkins crossed during the chase, failed to stop or slow his path.
Still, what could have been done differently? Could Jenkins have been stopped before traveling into a busier area downtown? These are questions Topeka police are no doubt asking after watching the chase end so disastrously.
The incident also should prompt discussion into the use of drones, which could track drivers who flee police stops and possibly enable law enforcement to curtail chases that endanger lives.
Any discussion to that effect is worthwhile after last week’s senseless tragedy.
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.
adminHigh speed chases have killed thousands of innocent bystanders
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.
Witness Michael Montgomery talks about the police chase that ended in fatal crash in southwest Atlanta on Sunday. MATT KEMPNER /… Read More
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.”
NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Police from several departments and troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) chased the driver of an 18-wheeler for more than an hour and ultimately ended a standoff peacefully.
The chase began in the Garland area, went into Rockwall County, and at lunchtime was on the Interstate-30 service road in Royse City.
There were more than two-dozen squad cars behind the semi stopped after the service road came to a dead end in the city of Greenville, on the I-30 service road at Highway 67, just before Lee Street.
The standoff took a turn after nearly an hour of the truck being stopped, when an armored vehicle arrived at the scene and was able to pull up directly beside the cab of the semi.
Former SWAT commander Mark Herrera said, “Basically what they’re trying to do is establish a line of negotiation with the driver of the truck.”
Herrera says the move is generally only made under certain circumstances.
“Time is basically on the side of law enforcement, especially if they’ve determined that there is no type of a hostage situation or no imminent threat.”
After sitting beside the truck for several minutes the armored vehicle moved and positioned in front of the semi. An officer then came out of the roof of the armored vehicle and fired two shots, of what appeared to be tear gas, through the windshield and into the vehicle.
A couple of minutes after firing the shots into the truck, the passenger side door of the semi opened and a dog ran out. Less than a minute later a man appeared at the opened cab door and SWAT officers pulled him out onto the ground.
At some point SWAT members appeared to put some type of drops in the suspect’s eyes, or flush his face with liquid, presumably to help with the effects of the tear gas.
Law enforcement officials had taken up positions along the frontage road and the highway. Traffic freely moved traffic in the westbound lanes of I-30, from the air vehicles on the eastbound side sat motionless, backed up for miles.
The standoff took a turn after nearly an hour of the truck being stopped, when an armored vehicle arrived at the scene and was able to pull up directly beside the cab of the semi.
Former SWAT commander Mark Herrera said, “Basically what they’re trying to do is establish a line of negotiation with the driver of the truck.”
Herrera says the move is generally only made under certain circumstances.
“Time is basically on the side of law enforcement, especially if they’ve determined that there is no type of a hostage situation or no imminent threat.”
While the chase was on the service road in Royse City law enforcement was limiting traffic near the truck and blocking some exits as the semi crossed near.
It appeared that several of the tires on the semi had been damaged as the truck lumbered thorough Hunt County.
The truck, that has Intrade Industries on the side of the trailer, had been reported stolen. Officials with the company have said they aren’t sure where the assigned driver of the semi is, so it’s unclear who is behind the wheel of the semi.
CHICAGO (WLS) — One person was killed and 12 others were injured in a violent crash on the city’s South Side Saturday that police say involved a stolen car after a short chase.
Police say an unmarked squad car first identified a stolen vehicle and attempted to get the driver to pull over at 66th Street and May. Police said the vehicle failed to stop and the officers initially gave chase, but abandoned it after a short distance.
The stolen vehicle ran a stop sign at 71st and Carpenter and struck another vehicle with eight people inside, killing 37-year-old Marie Carrion-Adame and injuring several, police said.
Three men inside the stolen vehicle were also hurt and were taken into custody and hospitalized. They have been charged with possession of a stolen vehicle.
Officials said 50 police officers and 11 ambulances wound up responding to the call.