All posts tagged: #PursuitReductionTech

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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Searching for Help in Washington DC

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Searching for Help in Washington DC

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More Milwaukee-Area Pursuits

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

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

 

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

Stolen car leads to police chase, rollover crash

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thousands of bystanders killed, injured

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

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

 

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

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

“He had a lot of best friends.”

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

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

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

Chahine died several days later.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

adminA father who lost his innocent bystander son in a police chase criticizes Milwaukee billboard campaign
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An Open Letter to Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales and the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission

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An Open Letter to Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales and the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission

From Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate
Pursuit For Change

In the summer of 2017 I addressed the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission about their directive forcing then Police Chief Flynn to reinstate dangerous non-violent felony vehicle pursuits. 

I asked the Commissioners, “How will you respond when innocent bystanders are injured and killed for chases started under this new policy?”  “How will you respond when those innocent citizens bring legal actions because this purposefully weakened policy was the direct cause of the injury or death?” and, “Have you considered other available options including funding additional technology tools proven to reduce the need for more pursuits while still allowing the capture of car thieves, drug dealers and joyriding kids?”

The Commission chose to ignore these serious concerns and instead did what no other city in the US has done. They mandated increasingthe number of allowable pursuits throughout Milwaukee’s densely populated neighborhoods.

Likely as a result of that change, and very tragically, Officer Charles Irvine was killed in a pursuit related crash in June 2018.  Officer Irvine was the same age as my son, who was also killed in an unnecessary police pursuit.  Could technology or more pursuit driving training have prevented Officer Irvine’s death?  Sadly, we will never know.

In June I read that Chief Morales and the MFPC are planning to spend precious and limited police funds for BILLBOARDSadvertising that, “Milwaukee Police chase bad guys.”  Really?  Does anyone actually believe that a few billboards will have ANY impact on Milwaukee’s criminal driving problems?  Criminals could care less what is printed on a billboard. The billboard expense is even more perplexing since the mayor and city council already voted to fund an expansion of GPS tracking technology and the supporting policy stating the system shall be installed on each new police vehicle.

Does anyone find it strange that the Chief and MFPC are leaning so heavily on pursuing fleeing offenders, no matter the reason, rather than strengthening pursuit policies, increasing officer training and using more pursuit-reduction technology the agency has already committed to implementing?  I certainly do.

Milwaukee’s 2018 pursuits are up 239 percent, and each of those chases endangers officers and citizens. How can anyone consider that to be a good thing?

Milwaukee is not alone in its pursuit-related problems. I recently spoke with Massachusetts media when an innocent father was killed while returning home from the hospital after visiting his newborn daughter for the very first time.  These unnecessary pursuit-related bystander and officer deaths continue to occur across the country every day.

Spending money on billboard advertising is wasteful.  It will not help Milwaukee to reduce reckless driving, nor reduce dangerous pursuits, nor save innocent lives.  However, allocating additional funds for officer training and acquisition of pursuit reduction tools will help protect officers and bystanders while still dealing with the criminals.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate

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NBC Boston 2018 Police Pursuit Investigative Stories

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NBC Boston 2018 Police Pursuit Investigative Stories

A note from Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change
August 17, 2018

I’m driving across Ohio on Interstate 80 and my phone rings. I don’t recognize the number, so I ignore the call. Several minutes later my phone signals that I have an email. And that’s how this most recent NBC news story came about.
Reporter Ally Donnelly and a team of NBC Boston investigative journalists asked if I could be available for a story they were working on. They also asked to be connected to Kate.
The request came as a result of yet another horrible and unnecessary police pursuit death. This time, a new father was coming home from his first visit with his newborn daughter in the hospital. He was struck by someone fleeing police.

Ally Donnelly, Danielle Waugh and Ken Tompkins were each involved with my interviews. Danielle and Ken drove to Gardiner, Maine to meet with me. Ally met with Kate at the site of Paul’s death. There are also videos about training and technology, the key to saving lives.

Below are the stories and videos.

Victims, Police Want More Training and Funding to Reduce Risk of Police Pursuits

Original story and ALL VIDEOS at: https://www.nbcboston.com/investigations/Victims-Police-Want-More-Training-and-Funding-to-Reduce-Risk-of-Police-Pursuits-490504951.html

A fatal Cape Cod crash has opened up old wounds for families of innocent bystanders who were killed in accidents involving police pursuits. They say a lack of training, funding and scrutiny of police pursuits are putting us all at risk.

(Published Friday, Aug. 10, 2018)

When Katlyn Hoyt’s eyes opened for the first time in days, she thought she was in New York.

But Hoyt was in Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, recovering from a severe crash in Somerville, Massachusetts that left her in a coma.

Perhaps mercifully, she still, 11 years later, has no recollection of that early morning crash on May 27, 2007.

“It’s like I was looking at a movie,” Hoyt said. “That wasn’t my cab. That wasn’t me.”

She also didn’t remember the man in the cab with her. Paul Farris, her 23-year-old boyfriend, died in the crash, along with the cab driver, Walid Chahine.

Hoyt, and Farris’ father, Jon, later found out that a man driving without a license fleeing police had crashed into their cab.

Mashpee Police are still investigating last month’s deadly crash that killed a new father on his way home from the hospital. He was hit by a man being chased by police for driving erratically.

VIDEO 2, https://www.nbcboston.com/on-air/as-seen-on/DIT-CAR-CHASE-5—Copy_NECN-490487621.html?t=1
WATCH: Wild Police Chases From Around the Country

We are constantly seeing examples of police pursuing suspects in vehicles. Many of these pursuits are unavoidable, but there is an inherent risk to the public as vehicles weave through neighborhoods or reach speeds of more than 100 mph on highways. Here’s a look at some notable police chases from around the country.

(Published Friday, Aug. 10, 2018)

The Mashpee crash opened old wounds for families like the Farrises and the Hoyts. Victims of crashes that result from police pursuits, their families, and police themselves say that a lack of training, funding and scrutiny of pursuits is putting everyone at risk.

According to the State Police report of Farris’ crash, Trooper Joseph Kalil spotted a black Mercury SUV make an illegal U-turn on Route 16 in Everett. Kalil flipped on his lights and tried to pull over the driver, but he took off.

Kalil chased, following the SUV into the densely populated residential streets in Medford and Somerville.

The driver, Javier Morales, turned off College Avenue onto Kidder Avenue, where he crashed into the cab carrying Farris and Hoyt at the intersection with Highland Road.

“There should be no reason to have a chase here,” Hoyt said, revisiting the intersection this month with a reporter. “It just blows your mind.”

Jon Farris agrees.

“If I had been told that they were pursuing someone who shot somebody, had raped somebody, truly a violent felon, Paul would still be dead. I would still be heartbroken. But I would understand that,” Farris said. “The fact that a guy made an illegal U-turn and then ran from police, ultimately we found out that he just didn’t have a driver’s license. He was running because he was afraid he was going to go to jail, which he would have. But that made no sense to me. And so Paul’s dead and in my mind, there’s zero reason.”

VIDEO 3, https://www.nbcboston.com/on-air/as-seen-on/pursuitwebextrafinal—Copy_NECN-490509221.html?t=188
   WATCH:  Jon Farris talks about pursuits and Paul
Jon Farris lost his son Paul in 2007. Massachusetts State Police changed their pursuit policy shortly after the crash.

(Published Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018)

Every deadly pursuit feels like a knife in the heart, Farris said. For the last decade he has pushed for more national oversight and accountability into what he calls an underreported public threat.

“No one has a clue how bad this is,” he said.

On average, nearly one person is killed each day in pursuits across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In Massachusetts, 225 people have been killed since 1982. Thirty percent were innocent bystanders like Farris and Chahine.

Mashpee police are continuing to investigate a crash that killed three people last month. Police pursued an erratic driver who failed to stop. He ended up crashing head on into an SUV driven by a new father on his way home from the hospital. That crash has stirred difficult memories for victims and families of other police pursuit crashes. They tel…Read more

(Published Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018)

Fred Leland, a retired Walpole police lieutenant who trains police in pursuit conduct, said cops “live in the gray” of unknowns and potential danger when deciding in the heat of the moment whether to pursue a driver speeding away.

“What if I say, ‘You know what it’s not that serious I’m gonna let him go,’ and then he goes down the street and hits somebody anyway?” he said.

Despite the media spotlight on dramatic pursuits, like one a month ago in Las Vegas where an officer returned fire through his own windshield at a fleeing vehicle he knew held dangerous felons, most attempted stops are more mundane.

According to the Department of Justice, two-thirds of pursuits begin, like the crashes in Somerville and Mashpee, with a traffic violation: speeding, erratic driving or a suspended license.

And for police, the chase itself is often a trial by fire. Leland said local departments do not get enough training, and real-world pursuits are not common for a given officer.

“We don’t have much experience in pursuits,” Leland said. “I know we’re the police and you see them on television and you think, ‘Oh you do them all the time.’ But no, we don’t.”

Officers get 48 hours of driving training when they first join the police academy. Pursuits are part of it, but what happens after that depends on their department.

“Some places do more, some places do less,” said Steve Wojnar, chief of the Dudley Police Department and president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.

He said all departments have written pursuit policies, but like the situations officers face, none are the same. And he agreed that training officers in pursuits should be mandatory.

“You never know exactly what it’s going to be like. You’re going to constantly reassess and re-evaluate the situation,” he said. “How are you going to function under a stressful situation? Are you going to be able to react? Are you going to be able to react properly?

But, as always, the obstacle for cash-strapped departments is paying for it.

“Training is the last thing to be funded and the first thing to be cut when there’s problems and that’s bad,” Leland said.

Bad, too, for a father who lost a son over an illegal U-turn.

“I don’t want other people to have to go through it. I shouldn’t have to be crying every other day when I’m mowing the lawn. It’s horrible,” Farris said.

Farris has been pushing federal legislation that would require departments to track pursuits and would fund more training. He also favors policies that would restrict when officers can pursue to when the officer knows he is chasing a violent felon.

Wojnar hopes training money could also come from the local police training bill Gov. Charlie Baker signed last week.

#PursuitReductionTechnology

Training and Technology Can Reduce Police Pursuits, But Funding Is Lacking

Some police departments in Massachusetts are re-evaluating their policies or looking for ways to avoid high-speed chases altogether to minimize fatal crashes and severe injuries.

But while many police chiefs agree that training and new devices can help reduce casualties in police pursuits, expensive technological tools and underfunded training budgets inhibit cash-strapped local departments from making changes.

The Methuen Police Department has adopted a cruiser-launched GPS tracking device that allows officers to avoid chases without losing a suspect.

“Anything we can do to avoid a pursuit and make a safer conclusion, we try to do that,” said Methuen Police Sgt. James Moore.

The device, called StarChase, is about the size of a can of soda. It is filled with foam and the tracking device. One end has a sticky pad.

An officer can launch the tracker either from inside the cruiser, or near the cruiser using a key fob, and the data is relayed back to dispatch.

“But we’re not going to chase it at 100 miles per hour, or we’re not going to have people giving themselves a potential for danger just for a person that was stopped for a red light,” Moore said.

Specific training is not required for pursuits like it is for firearms or Tasers. Each department sets its own policy on pursuits where officers and usually supervisors weigh the reason for the initial stop against the risk to the public if they chase. Most pursuits start over a minor traffic violation.

We are constantly seeing examples of police pursuing suspects in vehicles. Many of these pursuits are unavoidable, but there is an inherent risk to the public as vehicles weave through neighborhoods or reach speeds of more than 100 mph on highways. Here’s a look at some notable police chases from around the country.(Published Friday, Aug. 10, 2018)

Officer Derek Licata, the Methuen department’s training coordinator, said training is critical because officers in that instant, or any high-stress situation, goes “instantly into fight or flight mode.”

“It can actually sometimes cause you to lose focus of what you’re doing, kind of end up getting tunnel vision and not really focusing on the big picture,” he said.

According to federal data, about one person is killed each day in police pursuits across the country. Between 1982 and 2016, 225 people have been killed during police pursuits in Massachusetts, about a third innocent bystanders.

Three people in Barnstable were killed late last month, including a new father coming home from the hospital.

That chase started after a driver refused to pull over in Mashpee, and the officer gave chase along Route 28. The driver crashed head-on into an SUV carrying the new father, a Marine. The Marine, the driver, and the driver’s girlfriend all died in the crash.

Listen to the recording of the Mashpee, Massachusetts dispatch and the police officer pursuing the suspect before the fatal crash on July 28.(Published Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018)

“Nobody wants that to happen. Nobody went out with the intent of that happening,” said Fred Leland, a retired police lieutenant from Walpole who now consults with departments on training.

Leland said local departments need more training in how and when to chase. But in the heat of the moment, when an officer hears of a speeding, erratic driver blowing through stop signs, he knows the officer thinks: “Danger. I think this guy’s putting people in danger.”

Methuen has not had to deploy its tracking device, officers there said. And they intend for the system to obviate the need for high-speed pursuits in the city from now on.

“The days of people just chasing cars, for us, they’re over,” Moore said. “We don’t look forward to that and we’re certainly not trained or encouraged to do it.”

Multiple Massachusetts police chiefs told NBC10 Boston they need more funding to buy technology like StarChase and to train officers.

But they are also calling on lawmakers to dramatically increase the penalty for failing to stop for police. They think making it a felony would greatly reduce the number of people who flee.

Currently, failing to stop for police is a $100 fine.

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This Is Not Just Another Day

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By Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate for Pursuit For Change.

This Is Not Just Another Day

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

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

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

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

> SAVE LIVES. Innocent bystanders and law enforcement officers

> Reduce the number of misdemeanor and property-crime pursuits

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

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

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

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

May 27th will never be just another day.

 

 

 

 

 

Scott & Paul Farris – early memories

 

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Police not to blame for pursuit deaths (New Zealand)

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Original video from The AM Show from Newshub.  Worth your time to watch.

http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2018/03/police-say-they-re-not-to-blame-for-pursuit-deaths.html

There are deadly #PoliceChase deaths across the world. This is a well done segment by the hosts of The AM Show at Newshub in New Zealand. @NewshubNZ @TheAMShowNZ.  Looking for solutions / options and not tossing out blame.  #PursuitReductionTech and more driving training WILL help @Pursuit4Change @PursuitResponse

 

Police not to blame for pursuit deaths – union

12/03/2018
Dan Satherley

Between October 2016 and September last year, seven deaths and 552 crashes were recorded out of around 3600 pursuits.

The Police Association says police aren’t to blame for the deaths of three people in a pursuit that ended in a crash on Sunday.

Around 5:40am, police tried to stop a car in Richmond, south of Nelson. A six-kilometre chase ended in tragedy when the fleeing vehicle crossed the centre line, crashing into a vehicle coming the other way.

“You never overtake on the top of Burke’s Bank because you can’t see what’s on the other side,” Tasman District Mayor Richard Kempthorne told The AM Show on Monday.

Two of the dead were in the fleeing vehicle, the third a member of the public. Police Association president Chris Cahill told The AM Show police can’t be held responsible for the deaths.

“It isn’t the police chasing that’s causing these deaths – it’s the manner of the driving and the people failing to stop. They are the people responsible – not the police officers.”

The tragedy has renewed discussion on whether the rules around police pursuits should be tightened, or if they should be abandoned altogether.

Between October 2016 and September last year, seven deaths and 552 crashes were recorded out of around 3600 pursuits.

Det Insp Cahill said the existing rules are “very strict”.

“When a pursuit or fleeing driver incident starts, you immediately have to call through to the communications centre. They take control of the decision-making – you explain the conditions on the road, the speed, the amount of traffic, also that the reason the fleeing driver has taken off in the first place. “The communicator in the comms centre is the decision-maker as to whether that continues or not.

“It takes it away from the police officer in the car who may get tunnel vision, who may have the adrenalin rush going on.”

Police have continually update the comms person on what’s happening. They wouldn’t back a ban on pursuits without “considerable research” first, but doubt it would work.

Det Insp Cahill says Queensland’s restrictive rules on pursuits have resulted in “a lot of young people racing around all over the show, thinking they can get away with it”.

“Do you really think it would be safe just to let people drive on the roads at any speed they want, as drunk as they want, and the police are just going to wave them by? I don’t think the public would let that happen.”

And previous experiments in New Zealand haven’t worked either, he says.

“They started driving the wrong way down the motorway, things like that, ramming into police vehicles, knowing the police would stop. We need to be really careful thinking a ban would be all our answers.”

Det Insp Cahill says penalties need to be increased for drivers who fail to stop.

“If you’re drink driving and you know you’re going to get no further penalty if you fail to stop, what’s the incentive to stop? You need to know if you don’t stop your car is going to be taken… you’re going to face terms of imprisonment.”

Mr Kempthorne says he backs the police, saying the blame lies with those fleeing.

“I don’t want to be disrespectful for any family or friends involved, but we’ve got to be really aware some driver behaviour on the road is really bad.”

National Party leader Simon Bridges said he’s interested to see the evidence on police chases, and is interested in what other jurisdictions have tried.

“Instinctively, I’m with the police. I don’t think you can have a situation, it would be really bad if they can’t actually make sure that people stop when they’re pursuing them. People should stop,” he told The AM Show.

“If you say police should never do this, what happens then? Does that mean everyone thinks, ‘Well, I’m not stopping. I’m gonna keep on going.'”

The road toll so far this year stands at 77 – nine more than at the same point in 2016, which was a much deadlier year on the roads than 2015.

Newshub.

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WINx Experience

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Pursuit For Change Chief Advocate, Jonathan Farris, continues his ongoing support for law enforcement while working diligently to reduce non-violent felony #PoliceChase.

Jon was asked to speak at a 2017 law enforcement training event in Appleton, WI. Pursuit For Change wishes to express our thanks to Roy Bethge and Brian Willis for including Jon at this amazing event.

Below is Jon’s story. Additional, powerful WINx stories / presentations can be viewed at http://www.experiencewinx.com and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoCWQCRFV6RS_2IOgrKuXtQ?ab_channel=TheVirtusGroup%2CInc.

 

Jon Farris speaks at WINx

http://www.experiencewinx.com/jon-farris

W.I.N. is an acronym for Life’s Most Powerful Question – What’s Important Now? Why are these three words Life’s Most Powerful Question? Because of their simplicity and their diversity. W.I.N. is a guiding principle for leadership, training, planning, decision making, personal growth and life.

X is the ‘X’ Factor; the unknown. The unknown is what exactly you will experience during this one day event that will change your life. The X also stands for the known: Xcellent speakers who will provide an Xceptional Xperience and 10X value for your investment.

This is not your normal law enforcement training event filled with long and often boring presentations. WINx is a fast paced, dynamic event with presentations that are only 18 minutes. The topics, all of which relate to the law enforcement profession will challenge you, engage you and inspire you to action.

In addition to a number of experiential surprises there will be an opportunity to explore some of the concepts in more detail by engaging the speakers in additional dialogue.

If you are happy with the status quo and are not willing to be part of the growth and evolution of the law enforcement profession then this event is not for you.

However, if you are:

  • Committed to being part of the growth and advancement of the law enforcement profession.
  • You believe that leadership is about action.
  • You are willing to embrace the pursuit of excellence and fight against mediocrity.

Then WINx is one event you must attend.

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If pursuits are one of police’s most ‘dangerous activities,’ should policies be stricter?

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Yes. Yes. #PoliceChases should be much stricter.

Pursuit For Change advocates for limiting most pursuits to violent felons only.

If pursuits are one of police’s most ‘dangerous activities,’ should policies be stricter?

Over the last six months, the WCPO I-team has collected records from 40 different police departments and reviewed thousands of disciplinary cases involving officers. Our motives are simple: We want to make sure the people who protect us and enforce our laws are worthy of the high level of trust the public gives them. Read more about this project and why we are doing it here.

SHARONVILLE, Ohio — Cynthia Kennedy, of Liberty Township, was driving along Sharon Road on July 4, 2015, when a speeding vehicle slammed into her car.

“It was very scary for me,” Kennedy said in an interview with the WCPO I-Team. “I did see a car coming very fast, and then I saw policce lights behind it. I saw them coming, and I tried to shift back, but the car wouldn’t move, and he came so fast that I couldn’t get the car in gear.

“It was very traumatic.”

According to a Sharonville police officer’s report, the crash marked the end of a two-and-a-half minute high-speed chase along Interstate 75 around 6:30 p.m. The chase began after an officer observed then 33-year-old Jeremy Baker operating his vehicle at speeds approaching 120 miles per hour.

The I-Team reviewed records from 40 police departments serving the Tri-State, focusing on the agencies in seven metro area counties in Ohio and Kentucky. Reporters studied thousands of incidents involving police in large and small law enforcement agencies to see how police officers are held accountable.

We weren’t sure what we would find when we began collecting these records, but our goal was making sure the public was aware of how law enforcement agencies handle discipline.

RELATED: I-Team investigates how Tri-State police departments discipline officers who break the law

Those records showed that guidelines for high-speed pursuits of suspects can be broad and sometimes inconsistent across jurisdictions.

I-Team reporters also found that even when a department has a policy against chasing suspects at high speeds, some departments do not consistently discipline offending officers.

It’s a regional issue that Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said needs fixing.

“I think we should all be on the same page, not only in pursuits, but in most of the things we do,” he told WCPO. “It’s certainly something that I’m willing to be a part of and even take the leadership on to see if we can have a more uniform policy in the region.”

‘Consistent with policy’?

Kennedy, her passenger, and Baker recovered from their injuries, but it could have been a far more tragic story: Law enforcement leaders view emergency vehicular pursuits as a huge safety threat.

“I think vehicle pursuits are one of the most dangerous activities that our officers engage in,” Isaac told the I-Team. “Not only for themselves, but for the community at large.”

Tulsa Police Maj. Travis Yates, who runs a national pursuit-training academy, told USA Today the same thing: “A pursuit is probably the most unique and dangerous job law enforcement can do.

“We’re not taking it seriously enough because we think that one day of training that an officer may have gotten in their academy is going to take effect 10 years later when a pursuit begins,” he said. “Most officers will never fire their firearms ever, but we train one to four times a year” on how to fire guns.

Police ultimately charged Baker with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, failure to control a vehicle and excessive speed, among other charges.

None of the three officers involved in the chase faced any sort of disciplinary action.

Sharonville PD Vehicle Pursuit Report 7.4.15 by WCPO Web Team on Scribd

The internal review documents above include notes indicating the officers were traveling at speeds above 100 miles per hour and weaving through traffic while pursuing Baker. It also indicates an officer ran a red light at more than 50 miles per hour, and that one of the squad cars involved was in pursuit with its emergency lights on, but not its siren.

When it comes to speed, the Sharonville Police Department does not specify a certain speed at which pursuing officers need to stand down. The policy reads:

“When a motor vehicle pursuit exposes any officer, member of the public or suspect to unnecessary risk, then the pursuit is inconsistent with the policy of the Sharonville Police Department and should be terminated.”

The policy also specifies that officers in a pursuit must come to “a controlled slow/stop before proceeding under a red light,” but does not further define the term “controlled slow/stop.” As for the lights and siren — they’re a must.

Of the 30 police pursuit policies WCPO obtained, the most common criteria dictating officers’ best practices are:

  • Nature of suspected offense
  • Public and/or traffic in the vicinity
  • Weather and road conditions
  • Speed of the pursuit
  • Crossing into other jurisdictions
  • Time of day
  • Vehicle equipment (lights, sirens, markings, etc.)

According to Sharonville Police Lt. Jim Nesbit, the review of Baker’s pursuit found nothing that didn’t fit departmental policy.

“In the review of the pursuits, as I understand it, (the officers’ actions) were found consistent with policy that was in place at the time,” Nesbit told the I-Team.

The crash still haunting Kennedy was one of the eight pursuits involving Sharonville officers in 2015. In half of those pursuits, Sharonville officers hit speeds of at least 110 miles per hour. Five of those eight pursuits ended in crashes.

Out of those crashes, the Sharonville department hasn’t disciplined any officers involved in pursuits during the last three years, WCPO’s research indicates.

Across the Tri-State, law enforcement agencies have 44 pursuit policy violations on record since 2013. Discipline ranged from a verbal warning to additional training to — in rare instances — suspension.

Some cases involved officers speeding without their lights and sirens activated, or failing to end a pursuit when they were ordered to do so. In other cases, supervisors got in trouble because they didn’t intervene when there was was a pursuit violation under their command. And sometimes, officers put their own lives at risk by not wearing a seat belt during a high-speed chase, according to police documents.

One case involved a Butler County dispatcher who “froze-up” when a deputy went on a pursuit; other dispatchers had to take over.

Of the 44 reported policy violations, here’s a breakdown of the disciplinary measures taken:

 

Those violations came from these jurisdictions:

  • Blue Ash PD
  • Butler County Sheriff’s Office
  • Cincinnati PD
  • Delhi Township PD
  • Erlanger PD
  • Fairfield PD
  • Fort Wright PD
  • Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office
  • Hamilton PD
  • Lebanon PD
  • Madeira PD
  • Middletown PD
  • Norwood PD
  • Springdale PD
  • Taylor Mill PD
  • Warren County Sheriff’s Office

‘Corrective measures’

Nesbit stressed the importance of officers’ discretion and decision-making in helping avoid these chase scenarios.

“Their good judgment has to come into play when they are in the field,” he said. “Our officers have exhibited good judgment.”

But even in Sharonville’s one pursuit so far this year, an officer drove more than 100 miles per hour on wet pavement. The detailed review noted excessive speed and wet road conditions, but the officer still wasn’t disciplined.

Instead, the officer went through what Nesbit called “corrective measures.”

“Corrective measures were taken to make sure that his decision-making was consistent with our policy and our best practices placing public safety as the number one priority,” Nesbit said.

Those corrective measures did not include a written reprimand or a suspension, nor was the incident recorded as a violation.

Sharonville PD has since revised its policies regarding vehicle pursuits and undid a requirement that officers always pursue if the driver is a felony suspect, even across state lines.

Several police chiefs told the I-Team that inconsistent discipline reflects the inconsistent expectations of officers in pursuits: Some departments never pursue. Some only pursue if the subject is suspected on a felony charge. Some pursue for something as minor as a traffic violation. Some have restrictions on weather or road conditions.

Some have speed limits. Some don’t.

Another common phrase in police pursuit policies: “per the officer’s judgment.”

Having broad language in policy makes it difficult to enforce and discipline violating officers, said Phil Stinson, associate professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University. Stinson has researched police practices for decades, and said some pursuit policies are strict, while others allow considerable leeway for officers.

“If there’s no written policy or if the policy is very vague, you’re not going to have much in the way of discipline,” Stinson told the I-Team.

Pursuits’ lasting impact

For Kennedy, just being in a car still gives her anxiety, two years after the crash.

“I get chest pains sometimes,” she told the I-Team. “It’s caused a lot of emotional stress for me.”

Kennedy is part of the roughly 30 percent of people involved in police pursuit collisions nationwide who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which says hundreds of Americans die each year in police pursuits.

Meantime, she took the I-Team to the scene of her crash hoping to convince police to slow down and reconsider the urge to race to justice.

“I have, I guess you could say, a little post-traumatic stress from being hit,” she said. “There’s other means of pursuing an individual rather than a high-speed pursuit and endangering others.”

WCPO Web Editor Joe Rosemeyer and freelance journalists Laura Consolo, Kevin Eigelbach, Hannah Hagedorn and Roxanna Swift, contributed to this report.

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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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Reducing police pursuits while supporting LEO’s

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Original article located at the Pursuit Response website
http://www.pursuitresponse.org/reducing-police-pursuits-supporting-leos/

Reducing police pursuits while supporting LEO’s

By Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit for Change

Vehicular chases and police pursuit policies are issues often left on the back burner until a bystander or officer is injured or killed. I know this all too well.

While recently speaking to a group of Madison Police Department (WI) recruits, I was once again overcome with emotion remembering why I began this mission to reduce police pursuits for non-violent felonies. My son, Paul, a 23-year-old innocent bystander, was killed during a police chase into a city with a very restrictive policy. My presentation to these Madison recruits was part of my Pursuit For Change work (PursuitForChange.org) in conjunction with the Below100 initiative (Below100.org), a campaign to reduce preventable law enforcement officer line of duty deaths.

After my recruit presentation, as well as after other presentations to more experienced LEOs, many officers approached me to offer thanks for sharing my story. These officers get it; they understand my heart ache. They understand why I’m there, and why I dedicate so much effort to save lives of officers and bystanders like Paul.

Jon Farris presenting to Madison Police Department (WI) recruits

Jon Farris presenting to Madison Police Department (WI) recruits

After several years as Chairman of the Board for the national non-profit, PursuitSAFETY, I made a decision to move in a slightly different direction. I wanted to provide information and value to LEOs across the country. I wanted to share my story directly with legislators in Washington. I wanted to find additional funding for LEO’s use of pursuit reduction technologies and increased officer driving training. I wanted to implement mandatory tracking for all police chase-related deaths and injuries. And finally, I wanted to work toward safer and more consistent pursuit policies. So, as a result, I established Pursuit For Change.

Police Pursuits

Scores of high-speed police pursuits occur daily and there is definitely no shortage of media coverage. The more brazen and deadly the pursuit, the more news coverage it gets. Society sensationalizes police pursuits, and regardless of the horrific consequences, the media feeds their thirst to be entertained. In-car videos of dangerous stunts at high speeds followed by pictures of marred vehicles are exactly the type of coverage affecting the public’s mindset. People have become desensitized to police chases; for the most part, they are unaware of the tragic effects of the high-speed pursuits they watch.

Police pursuits kill an average of one person each day, according to the National Institute of Justice statistics. While the majority of pursuit-related deaths are suspects, an innocent bystander is killed every three days and a law enforcement officer is killed every six weeks. Even without mandatory reporting for pursuit-related deaths and injuries, data from an FBI report stated that thousands of people are injured in police chases every year.

Taken at a state level, the numbers look just as grim. An NBC Los Angeles report shed light on the prevalence of police pursuit-related injuries in the state of California. Between 2002 and 2012, over 10,000 people were injured in police chases, with 321 ending as fatalities. In 2011 alone, pursuits in California resulted in 927 injuries and 33 deaths. Included in those deaths were eight bystanders and one police officer. Other states have equally unacceptable results.

The toll from pursuits is not only measured in lives. A 2016 NBC investigation of Chicago-area pursuits found that taxpayers paid out over $95 million in civil settlements and judgments stemming from 24 separate lawsuits over a 10-year period. That same report counted nearly a dozen more pending lawsuits that had not been settled. So it is realistic to estimate that the sum of pursuit-related settlements in the Chicago area will exceed $100 million over a 10-year period. How many more officers and equipment could be funded by sums such as this?

Keep in mind that these police chase numbers are gathered without any rigorous Federal system in place to mandatorily report pursuit-related injuries, deaths and economic damages. From other studies completed, it is reasonable to predict that actual numbers are significantly higher. A standardized system for reporting pursuit-related injuries, deaths, and damages would be monumental in analyzing and significantly reducing those avoidable pursuits resulting in so much loss and suffering.

Police pursuits with deadly outcomes are nothing new; for many years, LEO and bystander lives have been lost and forever changed as a result. Police chases are a national issue with staggering local effects, yet the problem has largely fallen on deaf ears.

My Mission

My son died during a high-speed police chase in 2007. Paul and his girlfriend Katelyn were headed home when an SUV crashed into the taxicab in which they were passengers. Paul and the cab driver, Walid Chahine, died; Katelyn sustained serious, life-altering injuries. This double fatality police pursuit began over a misdemeanor traffic violation – when the driver of the SUV made an illegal U-turn.

Paul and Katelyn

Question: Is it worth risking innocent bystander lives and police officer lives over minor traffic violations such as failing to yield at a stop sign or an illegal U-turn?

That’s tough to answer because officers do have a duty to enforce the law, but while protecting citizens. Achieving both obligations – enforcement and protection – is extremely challenging. Common sense dictates that engaging in any pursuit should be limited to only the most dangerous and violent offenders. In the heat of the moment that can be a difficult decision for the officer unless their EVO pursuit policy is clear, concise and unambiguous. Most EVO and pursuit policies that I have reviewed do not meet these standards.

At the time of Paul’s death, many people were affected. My neighbor and good friend, Tim Dolan, was one of those.

“While in office, lowering violent crimes and protecting the citizens of Minneapolis was a primary focus,” said retired Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan. “The greatest risk of serious injuries to police and the public come from police chases or pursuits. This is a national issue. I strongly believe in what Jon is doing; I hope agencies take notice and start working to change their policies around pursuits.” – Tim Dolan, Chief of Police (Ret.), Minneapolis, MN

Pursuit Reduction Technology

There are alternatives to chasing. Examples include GPS tracking technology, driving simulator training, emergency smartphone alerts to drivers in the vicinity of an active pursuit, and other measures. Each of these options can be used to apprehend suspects while reducing the likelihood of civilian or officer injuries or deaths.

I have been working tirelessly to find alternatives that will limit pursuits for all but the most heinous of violent crimes. Technology is now a reality and police departments across the country are beginning to consider this in conjunction with stricter policies for their officers.

Unlike many advocates, I am not at odds with law enforcement. Rather, I understand that we have a common goal. I truly appreciate the challenge that law enforcement officers face. I provide information and support relating to reducing chases and making apprehending these criminals safer. I speak for many who have been adversely impacted by a police pursuit, to raise attention to the issue and to highlight the need for alternatives to high-speed pursuits for non-violent crimes.

No family should endure the lifetime pain caused by an avoidable disaster. I hope to minimize incidents when split-second decisions and adrenaline-fueled moments can end tragically, as it did for my Paul.

Pursuit for Change

Our goal is twofold: protect innocent civilians’ lives and protect officer lives. To accomplish this mission, I created Pursuit for Change, a national police pursuit advocacy group. The focus of Pursuit for Change is to push policy, legislation, technology and training to save innocent citizen and police officer lives. Rational pursuit policies coupled with advanced pursuit management technologies and increased training will decrease pursuit-related deaths and injuries.

The reality is that implementing these changes can be just that simple. Although increased training and advanced technologies are proven to reduce the risks involved in pursuits, many law enforcement agencies are unable to acquire necessary equipment because of budgetary constraints. Pursuit for Change is working with members of Congress to help police departments and law enforcement agencies receive necessary funding to adopt safer tactics.

Pursuit for Change is lobbying for a federally funded program for pursuit reduction technology and LEO driving training. Our efforts have united Senate and House representatives on both sides of the aisle.

Our work is also at the local level. My meetings with city and state law enforcement agencies are examples of affecting change at the source. Pursuit for Change is gearing up to work with even more agencies and departments to raise awareness and pursue meaningful change.

Future of Police Pursuits

Imagine a world where every day one more person’s life is saved, every three days one more innocent bystander’s life is saved, and every six weeks one police officer’s life is saved. In this world, police departments have adopted the latest and safest technologies with officer training and internal policies to match. This is a world in which dangerous chases are limited to the most extreme circumstances.

The ideal situation, of course, is to get bad guys off the streets without harming anyone else in the process. The better equipped and trained departments are, the more often they apprehend criminals without incident. We all need to remember that a LEO’s goal and obligation is to carry out their duty to protect and serve while ensuring the safety of bystanders, other officers and themselves.

Saving lives begins with awareness and education. Through the grief of thousands of anguished families and friends, we must support law enforcement while finding and implementing options other than chasing every runner. Officers put their lives on the line every day. It’s up to their command to find every possible means to reduce these risks. Increased training and enhanced technologies will most certainly reduce avoidable outcomes that adversely affect communities and law enforcement agencies alike.

The time is now to prevent other families, innocent bystanders, and police officers from having to suffer as my family has from easily preventable tragedies.

My journey started with horrible sadness and anger. But I continue to focus those emotions into something beneficial and desperately needed for society. I have focused my sadness into an appreciation for the challenges faced by law enforcement. However, I will continue to drive home my message that there are altogether way too many unnecessary pursuits, and LEOs must reassess their direction and policies.

I have focused my pain and heartache into a relentless, but positive pursuit for change.

 

Jonathan Farris is founder and Chief Advocate for Pursuit For Change, an advocacy working to change federal and local pursuit policies by seeking legislation to more effectively track and manage dangerous police chases and helping law enforcement implement pursuit reduction technology. Learn more at pursuitforchange.org.

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Too Many Police Chases End This Way

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We know there are so many safer means for apprehending drivers who flee from police. We need law enforcement to embrace new technology and safer tactics.

POLICE PURSUIT STARTS IN LEHI, ENDS WITH ROLLOVER OF BLUFFDALE OFFICER’S AUTO

Author Deanna Wagner
30 April, 2017

A Bluffdale police officer suffered minor injuries after his auto crashed and rolled on Interstate 15 in Sandy during a vehicle chase on Saturday.

Sgt. Todd Royce of the Utah Highway Patrol said the pursuit began in Lehi and the suspect fled north on I-15 at high speeds.

Only minor injuries for the Bluffdale officer. “But it looks like the Bluffdale officer rolled down through a lower area of I-15 and ended up being on his top in the emergency lane”.

The Bluffdale officer, who Royce said only suffered minor injuries, was transported to a hospital as a precautionary measure. It was not clear why police initially attempted to stop the vehicle. And we don’t know exactly what happened.

The suspect is still outstanding, he said, but Lehi police believe they know who the suspect is and they are now looking for him.

The pursuit was terminated immediately after the crash in order to render aid to the Bluffdale officer.

 

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:
http://appsforpcdaily.com/2017/04/police-pursuit-starts-in-lehi-ends-with-rollover-of/

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Welcome to a Great New Resource – Pursuit Response

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Pursuit For Change is very proud to be part of a terrific new organization, PURSUIT RESPONSE!

MISSION STATEMENT

Pursuit Response is dedicated to improving law enforcement and community safety during high risk vehicle events. This advisory group brings the latest research, advocacy, education, training and technology resources to law enforcement and the communities they serve.

ABOUT

Pursuit Response is dedicated to improving law enforcement and community safety during high risk vehicle events. This advisory group brings the latest research, advocacy, education, training and technology resources to law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Sponsors

FAACFAAC Incorporated is dedicated to providing the highest fidelity training products on the market. Our core focus is simulation technology that provides Law Enforcement Officers with a life-like virtual training environment. FAAC’s law enforcement training systems help officers train to keep themselves and the public safe in real life situations. This is accomplished by FAAC’s comprehensive in-house team comprised of current and former Law Enforcement Officers, Military Veterans, and Subject Matter Experts dedicated solely to supporting the Public Safety market. With a Customer-for-Life philosophy, we build the relationships necessary to understand, develop, deliver, and support your specific training program.

 

onstar_button-4c
Launched in 1996, OnStar is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors and offers emergency, security, navigation, connections and vehicle manager services in Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Opel and Vauxhall models.  Totaling nearly 10 million customers in North America, Europe, China and South America, OnStar offers a range of standard, subscription and a la carte services such as Advanced Diagnostics, Automatic Crash Response, Stolen Vehicle Assistance, AtYourService, OnStar Smart Driver and 4G LTE Wi-Fi.  OnStar works closely with the public safety sector to offer safety and security services to customers.  To learn more, visit http://www.onstar.com.

 

starchaseStarChase provides pursuit management and GPS tracking technology to public safety and government agencies worldwide. Our patented force multiplying technology empowers law enforcement, mitigates risk and protects communities. When utilized for high-risk traffic situations, such as DUIs, traffic infractions, stolen vehicles, human trafficking or felony events, StarChase has resulted in zero injuries, zero deaths, no property damage and no liability. StarChase is a privately held company based in Virginia Beach, VA. Applications:

  • Pursuit Management
  • Auto Theft / Stolen Vehicle Recovery
  • Special Task Forces
  • Arms & Narcotics Trafficking
  • Human Trafficking & Smuggling
  • Traffic & DUI Enforcement

 Advocates

PFCPursuit for Change is a national police pursuit victims’ advocacy group based in Wisconsin. The organization is focused on policy, legislation, technology and training to reduce unnecessary police chases and save innocent citizen and police officer lives. We’re working towards the following goals:

  • Mandatory Federal statistical tracking and management
  • Designated grant funding for law enforcement’s utilization of Pursuit Reduction Technology
  • Additional law enforcement funding for pursuit driving training
  • Pursuit policy modifications [consistency between departments; violent felony-only pursuits; beginning with Federal agencies]

@PursuitResponse @Pursuit4Change #PoliceChase #PursuitReductionTech

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