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Georgia Police Pursuit legislation

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Georgia Police Pursuit legislation

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

 

Jonesboro Democrat wants police chase policy for all of Georgia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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