All posts tagged: #PursuitResponse

Deputy’s Actions Prior To Deadly Missouri Crash

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I was recently interviewed by Harrison Keegan. I’m always happy to speak with the media. And in this case, I was pleased that the deputy followed procedures and did what was necessary to protect citizens as best he was able.

However, I am heartbroken about the deaths of the Jamin Seabert, 41, Kimberly Seabert, 39, and Braeden Seabert, 19, caused by a drug and alcohol-abuse driver.

Jon

 

Original Story at:  https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/crime/2019/08/08/greene-county-deputys-actions-before-glenstone-fatal-crash-experts-approve/1953193001/

Pursuit experts say Greene County deputy acted appropriately before fatal crash

Dash cam video shows suspect in fatal accident at Kearney and Glenstone fleeing from Greene County deputy. Andrew Jansen, News-Leader

The outcome was the worst-case scenario.

Authorities say a reckless driver who fled from a Greene County sheriff’s deputy Saturday night caused a major crash at the intersection of Glenstone Avenue and Kearney Street.

Three innocent people were killed, and the sheriff’s office has launched two separate investigations — one looking into the criminal culpability of the fleeing driver and another examining whether the deputies involved in the chase followed department procedure.

Sheriff Jim Arnott said he will wait for the Professional Standards Division to complete its investigation before saying anything definitive, but his first impression is that the pursuing deputy acted appropriately.

Two national police pursuit experts interviewed by the News-Leader said they agree with the sheriff.

 

The News-Leader asked the experts to review video clips of the pursuit from the TV show “Live PD” and the deputy’s dashboard camera, along with additional context provided by court documents and an interview with Sheriff Arnott.

While both experts said they had some concerns about the overall handling of the incident, they said they would not fault the pursuing deputy for his actions.

“The deputy wasn’t perfect, but he did probably everything that could have been expected of him,” said Dennis Kenney, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who has co-authored a book on police pursuits.

Kenney said the deputy briefly went into a lane of oncoming traffic as the suspect was fleeing the crash scene on foot, and that is a move Kenney would advise against. But overall, Kenney said the deputy’s response to the situation was reasonable.

While they didn’t fault the pursuing deputy, Kenney and another expert — Pursuit for Change founder Jonathan Farris — said they had concerns about the department’s use of spike strips during the pursuit.

The sheriff’s office says it deployed spike strips and took out two of the fleeing suspect’s tires about a mile-and-a-half before the fatal crash.

Kenney and Farris said they will be interested to see whether the investigation determines taking out the tires made the fleeing truck more difficult to control and might have contributed to the crash.

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Advocating for Change. Another Dad’s Journey

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Phil Warshauer’s daughter Stephanie was killed in 2018 when police chased a stolen vehicle. Stephanie was one of FIVE (5) who died in that unnecessary collision. That story of her death is linked here:

NC chase that killed 5 was based on false stolen car report, police say

Since that time, Phil and his family have advocated tirelessly to help reduce unnecessary chases. One of their success stories is below in a story By Nancy McLaughlin nancy.mclaughlin@greensboro.com in the Greensboro (SC) News & Record. That story is below.

I’ve had the honor to speak with Phil and I understand all that he’s going through and all that he is feeling. Stephanie’s death breaks my heart, because like my Paul, it was totally unnecessary. Only through advocacy efforts will we ever gain positive changes that save innocent lives.

Jon

 

New Guilford Sheriff’s Office policy places more restrictions on chases

Original story HERE: https://www.greensboro.com/news/local_news/new-guilford-sheriff-s-office-policy-places-more-restrictions-on/article_210ee869-399d-58be-aa5b-acc2de07a663.html

July 16, 2019  GREENSBORO — The new way police chases will be handled by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office is drawing praise from the families of two women who were involved in a Battleground Avenue pursuit almost two years ago that ended their lives and three others.

Under the new policy from Sheriff Danny Rogers, deputies won’t be permitted to engage in pursuits involving crimes that are simple, nonviolent misdemeanors such as shoplifting. It was a report of a stolen vehicle which initiated the Battleground Avenue chase just before midnight on a Saturday in September 2017.

However, for serious crimes or if a person is considered violent — a carjacker, for instance — that would be justification for a deputy to initiate a pursuit.

“Sheriff Rogers was open to our suggestions,” said attorney Drew Brown, who represents the families of Stephanie Louise Warshauer and Alyssa Mackenzie Bolick. “The concept is you can get the criminal later. You don’t need to involve Battleground, Saturday night and 130 miles per hour.”

The policy took effect in May. The families of Warshauer and Bolick began pushing for the changes after the Sept. 30, 2017 accident that left five people dead, saying they wanted to see something good come from the tragedy.

Phil Warshauer, whose daughter Stephanie was driving the Optima that was hit, was interviewed as part of a new training video which deputies will see annually. He has said that he also wanted to see law enforcement officers be able to go home at night to their families.

“What keeps me going is Stephanie’s strength,” Warshauer said at the time of the crash. “She would be very upset that she lost a friend, and she would say, ‘Dad, how can that happen?’

“She would say, ‘Dad, don’t let that happen again.’”

Investigators say an Acura driven by Deshon Lee Manuel was trying to evade Deputy C. Lineback’s Dodge Charger as he sped through a light at the intersection of Battleground Avenue and New Garden Road at 130 mph when it struck the Optima carrying Warshauer and Bolick with enough force to push the car another 200 feet.

Manuel along with his two passengers — Theresa Monique Kingcade and Bruce Wayne Hunt — died at the scene.

A wrongful death suit by the estate of Kingcade was dismissed this spring without prejudice, meaning it can be refiled within a year.

The lawsuit blamed the officer for setting off a chain of events that ended in the deaths.

Most kinds of lawsuits against the state and individuals acting in a government capacity — such as law enforcement — are covered by sovereign immunity.

“It’s an awful set of circumstances,” said attorney Richard C. Metcalf, who represented Kingcade’s family.

Barnes defended his deputy at the time, saying the people inside the Acura drew the deputy’s attention because he could see them ducking at times and looking in his direction. And when the vehicle between them moved over as traffic began to flow, the Acura also moved over, keeping a car between them.

The deputy said at the time he steered his patrol car behind the Acura and ran the license plate number through a police database.

The vehicle then turned into a nearby apartment complex.

“He’s thinking there’s something not right here,” Barnes said of the deputy at the time.

As the Acura exited the apartment complex onto Battleground Avenue, it headed in the opposite direction. It was then that Lineback was alerted the car had been reported stolen.

The Acura accelerated. A chase ensued.

Lineback activated his siren and lights, which also turned on his dashboard camera.

As was policy at the time, the deputy radioed in to a supervisor. The supervisor didn’t have time to respond, Barnes said, because the chase had barely started when it ended 62 seconds later in the deadly crash.

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OP ED City Should Change Police Pursuit Policy . Urban Milwaukee

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OP ED
City Should Change Police Pursuit Policy

940 pursuits in one year? Police should return to using effective GPS technology tracking program.

By May 27th, 2019 11:43 am

PLEASE SEE THE ORIGINAL POST at the Urban Milwaukee website:
https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2019/05/27/op-ed-city-should-change-police-pursuit-policy/

 

On Friday, May 17th, Urban Milwaukee published an article highlighting a stolen vehicle police pursuit on North 45th and West Center Street. The fleeing vehicle ultimately rear-ended a taxi cab and crashed. Several bystanders were injured, but luckily they survived the ordeal.

In 2018, after the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (MFPC) mandate that the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) weaken its nationally recognized pursuit policy, pursuits and these stories have become an everyday occurrence. In that one year, police pursuits rose from 369 to 940. Really; 940 police chases.

The article mentioned that, “the City-County Carjacking and Reckless Driving Task Force is set to meet for the first time on Friday, May 17th at City Hall. Among the topics likely to be discussed during that meeting and the Fire and Police Commission meeting were whether there are new police pursuit technologies that could help improve safety.”

Really? This is ironic because in 2018 MPD ended a pursuit reduction technology program. MPD and MFPC appear to be ignoring their previously successful use of GPS tracking technology. MPD ceased in this program 2018 and canceled already-approved additional GPS units.

It is simply a fact that continuing and expanding this program would have saved innocent lives and reduced bystander and officer injuries. These GPS unit purchases are public record and Urban Milwaukee covered this as well. Has anyone from MPD or the MFPC explained why? And now they are “looking for technologies that could help improve safety?”

Here is information from a recent article, “Are Police Pursuits Out of Control?“, written by Bruce Murphy in Urban Milwaukee and published on Thursday, April 25th:

Under (former Milwaukee PD Chief) Flynn the agency adopted new technology developed by a private company called StarChase, whereby police shoot at GPS “bullet” about the size of a soup can that can stick to a fleeing car.

A 2014 MPD report found it is effective in 55 percent of cases, meaning it sticks to a car and an arrest is later made. That compares to MPD’s horrible apprehension rate of 38 percent for 2018’s 940 chases.

“During the year 2016 MPD deployed this technology 156 times, successfully attaching it to fleeing vehicles 112 times,” a past FPC report noted.

The approach enables police to avoid high-speed chases that often are aggressive adrenaline-fueled contests between officers and a suspect that lose track of innocent bystanders in a dense urban setting.

Whereas the StarChase devices “give officers time to [let the adrenaline high pass], so by the time the pursuit is over, they can think more clearly and make better tactical decisions,” as MPD Inspector Terrence Gordon told Governing magazine in 2016. Yet since Chief Flynn retired, there has been no discussion of this technology.

So I ask, why are MFPC and MPD leadership ignoring their own past success with this technology? And of greater importance, why are these same officials allowing multiple dangerous pursuits every single day?

Of course technology alone is not a panacea. An intelligent and measured pursuit policy must balance enforcement with the risk to innocent citizens and officers. But that is certainly not occurring under current MPD policies, because tragically in 2018 one young officer was killed, twenty officers were injured, and numerous bystanders were killed and injured. And the carnage is continuing unabated into 2019.

Milwaukee has already exceeded its $5 million reserve for police settlements and now must borrow to settle lawsuits. This is after not properly considering or, more likely, ignoring available risk mitigation strategies (unless, of course, one counts the billboard campaign, which was a colossal waste of money).

No one pursuit-related solution will solve Milwaukee’s crime problems. Managing pursuits in the 21st century requires a mix of appropriate policies, extensive officer training and effective use of all available tools.

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission must explain to taxpayers why they and MPD ceased supporting a pursuit reduction program that was working. And as MFPC and MPD reflect upon their mind-boggling 940 pursuits, reconsider the fact that only effective technology combined with smarter pursuit driving policies will help tip MPD’s abysmal pursuit statistics back in the direction of saving lives and reducing injuries and property damage.

It’s clear that Milwaukee’s current pursuit policies and actions are costing too many lives and emptying city coffers.

Jonathan Farris is Chief Advocate for Pursuit For Change. Jon’s son Paul was an innocent bystander killed in a horrific police pursuit crash outside of Boston in May 2007.

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Thinking About Squad Cars and Guns

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Thinking about cars and guns

by Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change
May 27, 2019

Once again I awoke suddenly, shivering in a cold sweat. I had that vision – of the Taxi.  Damn.

The Taxi photo courtesy Fox 25 News, Boston . May 27, 2007

The Taxi photo courtesy Fox 25 News, Boston . May 27, 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My brain was spinning out of control.  So. Many. Questions.  The first batch were those same questions I’ve asked over and over and over again, virtually every day since Paul was killed.

  • Why didn’t Morales (the creep who killed my son) just stop?
  • Why did the State Trooper pursue for a simple misdemeanor traffic violation?
  • Did the Trooper or Morales even consider the crowded neighborhoods and dangers?
  • Why did this Trooper continue a 76 MPH pursuit into Somerville and its narrow streets, a city with a violent felony only pursuit policy?
    • Even the Somerville Police told me THEY WOULD NOT HAVE CHASED.
  • Why?  Why?  So many “whys”

For some odd wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night reason, all I could think about was how Paul was killed. And a bizarre analogy, visiting me yet again, would not go away.

Paul was killed by a 4,600 pound bullet. A bullet propelled not by a gun, but by a vehicular police chase.

Think about it. Paul’s death-by-police-pursuit is no different than if he had been shot by a police officer-fired stray bullet.

I wonder how much outrage a shooting would have sparked?  And how many policing policies might have changed to ensure such an event didn’t happen to another bystander?

Think about the annual training that officers receive with their firearms. This even though many (most) will never draw the gun from their holster other than for range practice. Yet all officers hop behind the wheel of their squad car every day. And for most of them, tactical driver training has been nothing less than abysmal, with perhaps a few hours of pursuit driving on a closed track every couple of years.

I’ll expound on the squad car-gun analogy another day, but today is for Paul.

When Paul was killed, as in nearly every pursuit situation, the criminal and the officer each had an opportunity to deescalate the situation before the collision. But neither was willing to give up.

Run; run; chase; chase.

And so whether death was from a police-pursued fleeing car or from a stray bullet, Paul and Walid paid the ultimate price.

May 27, 2019 marks the twelfth anniversary of Paul’s death. It marks the anniversary of a crumpled taxi photograph seared painfully into my conscious and subconscious mind.

It marks a new lifetime of working to correct an ongoing injustice. By preserving Paul’s memory and attempting to safeguard others through increased awareness of dangerous and unnecessary police pursuits, perhaps his story will survive.

I wish I could say happy anniversary…

I love you, Paul.

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Milwaukee’s Out of Control Police Pursuits

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by Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change
May 24, 2019

The following letter was sent to Wisconsin papers today.

To-the-Editor-MFPC-and-MPD-police-chase-policies-05242019.pdf

To the Editor

On Friday, May 17th, Urban Milwaukee published an article highlighting a stolen vehicle police pursuit on North 45th and West Center Street. The fleeing vehicle ultimately rear-ended a taxi cab and crashed. In 2018, after the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (MFPC) 2017 mandate that the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) weaken its nationally recognized pursuit policy, pursuits and these stories have become an everyday occurrence.

The article mentioned that the “City-County Carjacking and Reckless Driving Task Force is set to meet for the first time on Friday, May 17th at City Hall. Among the topics likely to be discussed during that meeting and the Fire and Police Commission meeting were whether there are new police pursuit technologies that could help improve safety.”

Really? This is ironic as both MPD and MFPC are ignoring their previously successful use of GPS tracking technology, a program which MPD ended in 2018. This, along with a now-cancelled contract to purchase more systems, would have saved innocent lives and reduced bystander and officer injuries. These GPS unit purchases are public record, and in fact, Urban Milwaukee covered this issue as well.

In a recent article Are Police Pursuits Out of Control?, written by Bruce Murphy and published on Thursday, April 25th, it stated:

Under (former Milwaukee PD Chief) Flynn the agency adopted new technology developed by a private company called StarChase, whereby police shoot at GPS “bullet” about the size of a soup can that can stick to a fleeing car.
A 2014 MPD report found it is effective in 55 percent of cases, meaning it sticks to a car and an arrest is later made. That compares to MPD’s horrible apprehension rate of 38 percent for 2018’s 940 chases.

“During the year 2016 MPD deployed this technology 156 times, successfully attaching it to fleeing vehicles 112 times,” a past FPC report noted. 

The approach enables police to avoid high-speed chases that often are aggressive adrenaline-fueled contests between officers and a suspect that lose track of innocent bystanders in a dense urban setting.

Whereas the StarChase devices “give officers time to [let the adrenaline high pass], so by the time the pursuit is over, they can think more clearly and make better tactical decisions,” as MPD Inspector Terrence Gordon told Governing magazine in 2016. Yet since Chief Flynn retired, there has been no discussion of this technology.

 

So I ask you, why are the MFPC and MPD leadership ignoring their own past success with this technology?

Technology alone is not a panacea. An intelligent and measured pursuit policy must balance enforcement with the risk to innocent public and officers. That is not happening under current policy, as tragically both officers and numerous civilians have been and will continue to be killed and injured.

The city has exceeded its $5 million reserve for police settlements and must currently borrow to settle lawsuits. [https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2019/05/14/court-watch-city-will-borrow-for-police-settlement/].  This is after not properly considering or, more likely ignoring risk mitigation strategies (unless one counts the billboard campaign, which was a colossal waste of money).

No one pursuit-related solution will solve Milwaukee’s crime problems. Managing pursuits in the 21st century requires a mix of appropriate policies, extensive officer training and effective use of available tools.

 

I respectfully ask that MFPC explain to taxpayers why they ceased supporting a pursuit reduction program that was working. And as MFPC and MPD consider their mind boggling 940 pursuits, reconsider the fact that effective technology, combined with smarter pursuit driving policies, will help tip MPD’s currently abysmal pursuit statistics back in the direction of saving lives and reducing injuries and property damage.

It’s clear that the current pursuit policy is costing too many lives and emptying city coffers.

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Innocent Woman and her 5 dogs killed

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Another totally unnecessary #PoliceChase after a stolen vehicle takes the life of an innocent woman and her 5 dogs. Long Beach.

Stupid. Unnecessary. Heartbreaking. 

Long Beach Post

ORIGINAL STORY: https://lbpost.com/news/crime/dogs-killed-police-pursuit-temple-3rd/

Neighbors in Bluff Heights were aghast Tuesday morning when a driver who’d been fleeing from police crashed, killing a woman and five dogs in the car he hit.

The woman, 41-year-old Jessica Bingaman, died at the hospital after rescuers freed her from the mangled wreckage and rushed her to get medical attention, according to police. There were six dogs in the car, four of which died at the scene. Two were taken to a local animal hospital where one of them died, police said

Neighbors said the crash happened when a white van plowed into a dark car on Third Street near Temple Avenue around 11:30 a.m. The van broadsided the car at high speed.

A tire flew off the car and hit a nearby wall. Photo by Valerie Osier.

A tire flew off the car and hit a nearby wall. Photo by Valerie Osier.

“I saw the white van coming this way really fast. He was going at least 60 to 70 miles per hour,” Fabio Giannone said. “By the time I opened the door, he smashed into the car.”

The crash was so violent that a tire and axle from the car flew across the street and broke a concrete wall. Three parked vehicles—a minivan, a truck and a sedan—were also damaged in the crash.

Police identified the van’s driver as 43-year-old Los Angeles resident Javier Oliverez, who is a parolee and known gang member and was wanted on a warrant for robbery, Long Beach police spokeswoman Arantxa Chavarria said. 

After being taken to the hospital for minor injuries, Oliverez was booked on suspicion of evading a police officer, felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter. He is being held at the Long Beach Jail with no bail.

At least two people were hospitalized and several dogs were killed. Photo by Valerie Osier.

At least two people were hospitalized and several dogs were killed. Photo by Valerie Osier.

After first-responders tended to the injured drivers, locals watched as firefighters covered one of the dead dogs with a blanket. Another was briefly hanging out of the car’s mangled door.

Jordan Wood said crews used the Jaws of Life to cut Bingaman out of her car. Wood had calmed down one of the dogs who was still alive, drawing thanks from fire crews.

Mourners placed flowers, dog toys and candles at the site of the crash. Bingaman was a local dog walker. She had the dogs in her car as part of a daycare service she ran, police said.

A memorial is crowded with dog toys, treats, flowers and candles. Photo by Jeremiah Dobruck.

A memorial is crowded with dog toys, treats, flowers and candles. Photo by Jeremiah Dobruck.

Police said the chase started near Broadway and Alamitos Avenue where officers spotted the van, which had been reported stolen Monday.

The driver wouldn’t stop and officers followed, Long Beach police spokeswoman Shaunna Dandoy said.

Police will look into whether officers acted properly by chasing the van, Chavarria said. This review is typical for pursuits, she said.

A driver in a white van crashed into a car near Temple Avenue and Third Street as he was fleeing from police. Courtesy photo.

A driver in a white van crashed into a car near Temple Avenue and Third Street as he was fleeing from police. Courtesy photo.

When they chase someone, the LBPD mandates its officers and supervisors continually evaluate whether it’s worth the risk. Among other things, they have to consider traffic conditions, whether they’re in a residential neighborhood, the recklessness of the suspect and what he or she is wanted for.

“A police pursuit is a dangerous activity that should be engaged in with the utmost awareness of the risks to other drivers, bystanders, the officers, and the suspect(s),” the LBPD manual says. “The primary purpose of a motor vehicle pursuit is to arrest fleeing suspects with the minimum amount of force necessary and to minimize the risk of harm to people and property.”

In 2008, a passing driver was killed during a police pursuit just half a mile from the site of today’s crash.

In that case, an officer was pursuing a drunk driver who blew through stop signs and traffic signals at up to 100 mph around 2 a.m., police said at the time.

The chase ended when the suspect hit a car near Redondo Avenue and Fourth Street, killing 32-year-old Jason Allen Siebert, according to authorities.

Editor’s note: This story was updated shortly after 2:30 p.m. with the information that the woman died at the hospital. It was updated again Wednesday morning with the woman’s name.

Valerie Osier is a breaking news reporter for the Long Beach Post. Reach her at valerie@lbpost.com or on Twitter @ValerieOsier

Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach him at jeremiah@lbpost.com or @jeremiahdobruck on Twitter.

 

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Two More Innocent Citizens Die – For A Stolen Car Police Chase

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This story plays out EVERY SINGLE DAY across the US. Police chasing stolen vehicles and ALWAYS endangering innocent bystanders. In this case, Maria and Rosemary had to die so policy could chase. When will this stupidity end?

 

ORIGINAL KSN.com STORY AND VIDEO HERE: https://www.ksn.com/news/local/woman-and-girl-killed-in-crash-involving-fleeing-vehicle-identified/1980972004

Woman and girl killed in crash involving fleeing vehicle identified

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita police tell KSN that a 12-year-old girl and 70-year-old woman died after a multi-car crash in downtown Wichita. It happened just before 2 p.m. Sunday at Douglas and Broadway.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, a 2001 BMW with two people inside was fleeing from Wichita police on Broadway heading southbound.

At the intersection, the BMW struck a 1998 Toyota with three people inside on the drivers side. The Toyota spun out and struck another Chevy with one person.

The woman and girl who died in the crash are identified as 70-year-old Maria Wood and 12-year-old Rosemary McElroy. Both are from Wichita and were in the Toyota. Another woman, 36-year-old Jennifer Wood, was injured and transported to the hospital.

The two people in the BMW, 24-year-old Mia Collins and 38-year-old Christopher English, were transported to the hospital.

A driver of the Chevy, 65-year-old Alfred Angel, was also taken to the hospital.

Captain Jeff Weible says the two suspects accused of causing the crash are in the hospital.

The crash spawned from a car chase, when officers saw an alleged stolen vehicle at the 1000 block of North Broadway.

“As they were trying to turn around to follow the vehicle, the vehicle took off at a high rate of speed,” said Capt. Weible, Wichita Police Department.

Some people who work nearby said they keep replaying the scene in their mind. Legend Journey works inside a building right next to where the crash happened. She was emotional as she recalled what she saw.

“I just walked up to the window, and I saw her feet,” said Journey. “So, I ran away from the window. Just to know that it was right outside where I work and they wanted us to keep working.”

Police are still investigating. KSN hopes to learn more later todya.

“When we have an incident of this magnitude, we’re going to review it thoroughly to make sure we not only follow policy but state law,” said Capt. Weible.

While witnesses said they’re thinking of the families involved, they said they’re also trying to process what they saw.

“It shouldn’t have happened,” said Journey. “It kind of makes me angry because is stealing a car really worth two people’s lives?”

The areas from Topeka to Market on Douglas and from William to 1st Street on Broadway were shut down for several hours.

 

A follow-up story printed in the Wichita Eagle is here: https://www.kansas.com/news/local/crime/article230076459.html

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Changing Pursuit Policies – Often After Tragedy

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The Jackson County Sheriff recently enacted a stricter pursuit policy for his department. Terrific!
However, this was after the previous sheriff loosened the policy. Sadly, the negligent actions of a Deputy caused great bodily harm to an innocent citizen.

 

 

ORIGINAL STORY AND VIDEO HERE:  https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/crime/article230034344.html

When is a police chase appropriate? New Jackson County policy spells that out

 

Dashcam video from a May 9, 2018, traffic collision shows a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy run a red light and crash into another vehicle, severely injuring the other driver. The deputy was involved in a pursuit that started with a broken taillight.

 

A Jackson County Sheriff’s policy enacted April 13 expands upon what was in place when a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy crashed into a bystander’s car in 2018.

The new policy provides stricter guidelines for police chases.

It replaces the 2017 police pursuit policy that was suspended by Sheriff Daryl Forté, a former Kansas City Police chief who was elected to his current position last year.

The new policy provides greater detail and changes portions of the former policy to restrict circumstances in which officers can engage in high speed chases.

Both the 2017 and 2019 policies state that when bystanders are present the subject of a pursuit must present a “clear and immediate danger.”

While the 2017 policy does not provide a definition of “clear and immediate danger,” the 2019 policy defines it as “any deliberate or intentional act by the pursued vehicle or occupants that would bring fear of death or serious bodily injury or extreme property damage to either the deputies or citizens.” The policy also states that “clear and immediate danger” cannot exist for minor traffic stops or speeding.

The policy creates guidelines for when an officer must end a pursuit. For instance, officers are directed to end chases once communications are established with a law enforcement helicopter or other aircraft that is able to track the vehicle. Similarly, if a deputy successfully attaches a StarChase tracking device to a car, officers must end the chase.

The 2019 policy also prohibits deputies from engaging in pursuits if their dashcams are not working unless the suspect is armed or be known to have committed a dangerous felony.

The new policy was obtained by the Star through an open records request. The 2017 policy was provided to the Star by Brett T. Burmeister, the attorney for Christopher S. Reed, who was the bystander injured in the 2018 chase.

Reed, 30, was thrown from his car and suffered head injuries, spinal injuries and a broken clavicle when Deputy Sean Stoff, 34, slammed into his car after running a red light without his emergency lights and sirens on.

Stoff turned his lights and sirens off after a StarChase tracker was applied to the car but violated department policy by continuing the pursuit without his lights and sirens on. He was charged with misdemeanor careless and imprudent driving Wednesday.

“Obviously the policy itself is not the main culprit in this case,” Burmeister told the Star in an email. “Rather, it’s the deputy who completely disregarded the policy.”

Forte said in a Facebook post Thursday that he became concerned about the policy last year after he was elected. He clarified in another post Friday that his decision was not prompted by only one incident.

“The restrictive vehicle pursuit policy did not occur solely because of one incident,” Forte said in Friday’s post.

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Seat Belt Violation Pursuit Injures Innocent Bystanders

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Police Chases For Misdemeanor Traffic Violations MUST STOP!

Independence Missouri is like way too many other jurisdictions. They allow officers virtually unlimited ability to engage in very dangerous, high speed police chases through city streets. And in cities like this, each and every day innocent citizens are injured and killed.

The answer is simple. STOP pursuing for misdemeanors and simple property crimes. Only pursue for violent felonies, and only then if no other safer options are available.
More training is necessary. Greater usage of technology tools is encouraged. And law enforcement MUST be held accountable for making poor decisions that injure or kill innocents.

Following is an excellent report by Cat Reid at television station KSHB 41. Go to their site and watch the video. Bad decisions abound, especially running at 80 MPH with a mud-streaked windshield. It is horrible that two innocent people were grievously injured, but tell me the pursuing officer could have seen a kid running into the street. It is actually amazing that no one was killed.



ORIGINAL STORY AND VIDEOS HERE:  https://www.kshb.com/news/local-news/innocent-bystanders-injured-in-independence-police-chase-over-seat-belt-violation

Innocent bystanders injured in Independence police chase over seat belt violation

IPD policy allows pursuits for any crime
Posted: 11:00 AM, Apr 25, 2019
Updated: 5:29 AM, Apr 26, 2019

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — On a Saturday afternoon in January, Sherry Ross decided to drive her 91-year-old father to Mass.

“He was going, ‘you didn’t have to pick me up for church,’ and I said, ‘Dad, you don’t need to be driving when I can drive you,’” Ross said, remembering that day.

Just a few minutes later, Ross heard sirens near the intersection of Sterling Avenue and Blue Ridge Boulevard. Her father saw what was coming and tried to verbalize a warning.

“He yelled ‘watch,’ but he never got ‘out’ out,” Ross said.

The driver of a maroon pickup truck ran a red light and slammed into Ross’s small SUV, totaling it. Ross walked away with a broken sternum, while her dad suffered a broken sternum, eight broken ribs and a punctured lung.

Independence police chase-Sherry Ross

Contributed photo
Sherry Ross and her 91-year-old father were badly injured when the driver of a pickup truck ran a red light and slammed into their small SUV. The crash occurred during a high-speed chase that Independence police initiated over a minor traffic violation.

Later, Ross would learn what had happened that day was more than just a horrific crash.

“It was awful, but I think what was so frustrating then was knowing it was a chase,” Ross said.

An Independence police officer attempted a traffic stop on Jan. 26 near the intersection of 23rd Street and Harvard Avenue. The officer’s dashboard camera video shows the suspect took off down Harvard, a quiet neighborhood street.

When the driver hit a dead end on 25th Street, he quickly reversed toward Sterling Avenue. As the man, later identified as James W. Mathis, tried to turn around, his tires became stuck in a muddy lot. Eventually he was able to drive off, spewing mud across the officer’s windshield in the process.

It’s hard to see what happened next, since the windshield wipers on the patrol car smeared the mud, impairing visibility in the video. However, according to a police report, the chase continued down Sterling Avenue, with Mathis running two red lights and reaching speeds of 84 miles per hour.

The four-minute pursuit ended as he ran a third light, crashing into Ross’s car.

The chase that ended in the crash, injuring Ross and her father, was initiated over a traffic violation. The officer said Mathis wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

“I was livid,” Ross said about learning the reason for the pursuit.

Her niece, Angela Angotti, felt the same way.

“We have to count on the law enforcement professionals to be calm and to make good decisions,” Angotti said, “and to have a police chase over a seat belt violation just seems unnecessary. It’s an unnecessary risk.”

Independence pursuit policy

Both Independence and Kansas City, Kansas, police allow pursuits for any crime.

Sherry Ross and her father are not the first people injured as a result of those chases. Over a five-year period, Independence pursuits led to $1.1 million in payouts for property damage and lawsuit settlements.

In 2014, the KCK Police Department settled two lawsuits related to pursuits for $625,000.

Multiple requests for interviews with the chiefs of both departments went unanswered.

An IPD spokesman did respond to some questions via email,  emphasizing that the collateral damage of chases rests on the shoulders of suspects.

“It is the criminal who places the public at risk and puts themselves in danger for failing to lawfully comply with the vehicle stop,” Independence police spokesman John Syme said in the email. “Police officers are attempting to prevent crime and protect society.”

Syme declined to provide specifics on the pursuit involving Ross and her father, citing the potential for litigation in the case.

According to the Independence pursuit policy, “pursuits for traffic violations or for misdemeanors will be avoided or terminated if they pose unnecessary risk to life or property.”

 

When Syme sat down with 41 Action News in February 2018, he tried to explain why the department allows pursuits for such minor crimes.

“Oftentimes you’ll hear a pursuit immediately terminated if it’s just for traffic violations,” he said at the time. “But we also know that something that appears to be traffic at first, maybe just someone running a red light, could be indicative of something much more serious. Maybe they just committed a crime.”

That logic doesn’t hold up in the eyes of University of South Carolina professor Geoffrey Alpert, who has been studying high-risk police activities, including pursuits, for more than 30 years.

“You can’t justify a pursuit based on what you think or based on what you might know,” he said.

A model policy

Through his years of research, Alpert came to the conclusion that department’s policies have to draw a clear line in the sand.

“I think it’s important for management, the chief or the sheriff, to come in and say if you’re not chasing for a violent crime, then it’s not worth it,” he said.

Alpert points to the New Orleans Police Department’s policy as a model for other agencies. That policy allows for pursuits only when officers have “reasonable suspicion that a fleeing suspect has committed or has attempted to commit a crime of violence…and the escape of the subject would pose an imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or to another person.”

In the policy, a crime of violence is defined as “a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious bodily injury or death.”

The NOPD policy prohibits pursuits for property and misdemeanor offenses and traffic or civil infractions.

Alpert argues such a policy is not only safer for the public, but also better for officers, who have mere seconds to make hard choices.

“It’s just not fair to the officers to force them to make all those decisions. I think management should do it from the boardroom,” he said.

Experts say another important attribute of any policy is the inclusion of an independent third party that can make the call on whether or not to pursue.

“As strange as it may sound, it sort of takes the heat off of the officer for that feeling of saying I just let somebody go. It wasn’t their decision,” said John Hamilton, an associate professor of criminal justice at Park University.

The IPD’s pursuit policy states that “the decision to initiate a vehicular pursuit rests with the individual officer.” However, a supervisor can terminate the chase at any time.

In 2018, 66 percent of initiated pursuits were terminated, with the majority of those decisions being made by the officers behind the wheel, according to IPD.

A call for change

It’s unclear why the department allowed the chase that injured Ross and her father to continue.

After the crash, officers determined James Mathis’s girlfriend and his 7-year-old son were in the backseat during the pursuit, according to the police report. Neither was wearing a seat belt during the chase, and Mathis was charged with endangerment of a child.

Independence police pursuit - Mathis car

Contributed photo
A pickup truck driven by James Mathis slammed into a small SUV following a police chase that reached speeds of 84 mph. Independence police initiated the pursuit over a seat belt violation.

Police said they found 0.2 grams of marijuana in the center console of the truck, as well as drug paraphernalia, including a glass pipe and scale. According to the police report, an officer also found 1.4 grams of meth and a pipe in Mathis’s jeans pocket.

Before the chase, his record only reflected two traffic warrants and a revoked license. Now he’s facing charges for fleeing and for the crash.

For Sherry Ross, the end doesn’t justify the means.

“Something’s got to change,” she said.

The family is determined to see that happen. Angotti is an attorney and knows that one way to fight the issue is in court.

But she doesn’t want to sue the city of Independence. Instead, she wants her family compensated and the pursuit policy changed.

“It would be nice if it didn’t have to go this way this time, and if we can do something and use this to help other people,” she said.

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Minnesota Police Chases Up 170 Percent since 2010

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An EXCELLENT investigative story by KSTP reporter Ryan Raiche

Summarizing how most police departments in Minnesota still leave highly dangerous pursuit decisions up to individual officers.

 

Changing how they chase: Most officers in Minnesota are forced to make judgment calls behind the wheel

February 18, 2019 10:20 PM

Police officers across Minnesota are forced to make a judgment call while behind the wheel on whether to engage in high-speed chases that could potentially jeopardize innocent lives.

Nearly 200 agencies leave those high-risk decisions up to officer discretion, according to a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS analysis of pursuit policies.

A national expert on police chases says those findings show departments are putting officers at a disadvantage by asking them to make risky decisions on the fly.

“You are putting that officer in a horrible position,” said Geoffrey Alpert, a professor at the University of South Carolina, who has studied police chases for 30 years. “How fair is that to the officer?”

Alpert says such policies put officers and the public at risk.

Since last summer, nine innocent people have been injured or killed in the Twin Cities in the middle of police chases or moments after they were terminated.

“The person who flees from police should be punished… but not at the cost of my family’s life,” Alpert said.

Banning Chases

Yet, high-speed chases are up 170 percent in Minnesota since 2010, according to the Department of Public Safety.



A previous 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation last fall found the overwhelming majority of such chases start because of minor traffic violations like speeding or broken taillights.


A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS INVESTIGATION found officers have chased drivers at dangerous speeds for minor traffic violations such as a broken tail light or a petty crime like shoplifting. View the original report AND VIDEO here: Expert on High Speed Chases for Low Level Violations: ‘Let Them Go’


The review of pursuit policies show 27 departments – less than 15 percent – have banned chases over such violations. Those departments only allow officers to chase violent offenders suspected of committing crimes like armed robbery, assault or murder.

“We want to make things better, not worse,” said Chief Eric Gieseke with the Burnsville Police Department. His department banned chases nearly 30 years ago.

Gieseke says he wants his officers to ask themselves one question when making that decision: Is the chase worth dying for?

“Having a restrictive policy actually helps the officer because it gives them clear guidelines,” he said. “They’re not stuck in the middle of a very difficult decision making process during a rapidly evolving situation. It’s clear.”

In other departments, officers are expected to assess a variety of factors in a matter of seconds including traffic, weather, and the ability to arrest the suspect later.

“We want to make sure we’re not putting the public in harm’s way, unnecessarily,” Gieseke said. “We also want to protect the officers and give them the opportunity to go home safe at the end of the night.”

A recent national study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice suggests that restrictive pursuit policies, like the one in Burnsville, are becoming more common throughout the country. However, the data does not show how restrictive.

“I think you’re the first group that has really looked at a large number of policies and has determined what’s restrictive and what’s not,” said Alpert. “I would like to see this done in every state. I think the country needs to look at it. We need to know what our police are doing.”

‘Should have been called off a long time ago’

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS started analyzing police chases after a suspect chased by a state trooper for driving over the speed limit crashed into a Minneapolis playground. Three children were seriously injured in the crash.

Dash-camera video later released by the state patrol showed the trooper regretted that chase.

“Should have been called off a long time ago,” he said in the recording.

The agency is now reviewing its policy. However, when asked in December whether that chase was reasonable, Col. Matt Langer defended the troopers’ decisions.

“Our pursuit policy affords troopers the discretion in making those decisions and they’re trained on both the skill of driving fast and the decision making required,” Langer said. “Ultimately, it’s a subjective test.”

Gieseke, the police chief in Burnsville, says changing such policies is not always a popular decision.

“It wasn’t well received by a lot of officers, quite frankly,” Gieseke said. “There was a perception that everybody would come to Burnsville to commit crimes or all the bad men and women would get away, but that hasn’t been the case. The data doesn’t support that.”

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More About Milwaukee’s Dangerous Pursuit Policies

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More About Milwaukee’s Dangerous Pursuit Policies

More and more people are recognizing the highly political nature of Milwaukee’s “pursue for any reason until the wheels fall off” police chase changes. Officers are dying. Innocent citizens are dying. Fleeing vehicles are screaming down Milwaukee’s densely populated neighborhoods at 75 miles per hour and faster – putting EVERYONE at risk. And in 2018, MPD was doing this THREE TIMES EVERY SINGLE DAY.

This is insanity. This is not working. This is killing people. And this needs to stop.

If it takes replacing Aldermen and members of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, then I encourage Milwaukee voters to do something about it.

Do it before some you love is killed unnecessarily.

Thanks to Urban Milwaukee reporter Bruce Murphy for reaching out to me and for writing this thoughtful article about Milwaukee’s out of control police pursuits.

 

ORIGINAL STORY AT: https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2019/04/25/murphys-law-are-police-pursuits-out-of-control/

MURPHY’S LAW
Bruce Murphy

Are Police Pursuits Out of Control?

Massive increase in high-speed chases under the new policy. Results are scary.

By  – Apr 25th, 2019 11:38 am

Last week Saturday another person was killed after high-speed police chase. A Fox 6 report included a cell phone video of the police car barreling down a city street and covered the resulting carnage that occurred.

This was in response to what police believed was “drug dealing” with no further information offered. The police did not say the person chased was suspected of committing any violence, which would be consistent with most such chases in America, which are in response to non-violent offenses, typically traffic violations. 

The 27-year-old man being chased sped through a stop sign, crashing into another vehicle and then careening into a home, where his car burst into flames and ignited the house. “The vehicle sheered the gas main to the house, creating a very dangerous situation inside the house,” said Battalion Chief Erich Roden, Milwaukee Fire Department.

The man being chased was killed and the driver he hit was injured. “Jazzmine Salaam says the speeding vehicle smashed into her cousin driving an SUV at the intersection of 13th and Capitol. She was taken to the hospital with minor injuries,” as Fox 6 reported. 

David Miller, the homeowner, might have been killed but wasn’t at home at the time. He described the explosion to Channel 12, saying it “busted all my windows, everything melted… the TV melted. I lost about 20 good guitars.”  

Miller is “still in shock,” says his brother and his home, which was uninsured, is almost completely destroyed. The brother has just launched a crowd funding campaign to pay for a new home.

All told that’s one person killed, one injured and one in shock with an incinerated home, all to capture one guy who may have been involved in a drug deal. That’s how Milwaukee’s police pursuit policy works these days. 

Last year, Milwaukee police engaged in 940 chases, nearly triple the number in 2017, and well more than the total number of pursuits for the seven year period from 2008 through 2014, when there were 858 pursuits. These numbers come from a new report by the Fire and Police Commission (FPC).

Slightly more than half of the pursuits in 2018 — 491 — hit a speed of more than 75 miles per hour, and most were on city streets. The percent of police chases that exceeded 75 miles per hour has risen from just 10 percent in 2012 to 52 percent last year, the report found. 

About 18 percent of the chases terminated in a car crash and 25 percent caused a car accident. Thirteen officers were injured during the pursuits, one fatally, 112 people being chased were injured, five of whom died and 38 bystanders were injured. 

Yet only 21 percent of the pursuits involved a violent felony. Most — nearly 70 percent — involved a traffic violation or reckless vehicle.

And the vast majority of pursuits didn’t catch the subject: Just 38 percent of the pursuits resulted in apprehensions. 

The skyrocketing increase in pursuits is the direct result of a new policy pushed for in 2017 by Milwaukee Common Council members. A letter from 13 of 15 council members noted a rise in killings by hit-and-run drivers, and also claimed that speeding, red light-running and reckless driving were occurring at record levels.

Then-Police Chief Edward A. Flynn opposed any change in the pursuit policy. 

He had already strengthened the pursuit policy in 2015, which allowed police to chase if either the vehicle or occupants had been involved in a felony or attempted felony, or if the vehicle or occupant(s) presents a clear and immediate threat to the safety of others,” which appeared to target reckless driving. 

The result was a significant increase in pursuits, to 263 in 2015 and 306 in 2016 — more pursuits than in any year since 2002. But the council wanted still more pursuits and so the Fire and Police Commission ordered a stronger policy.  

A new policy created in September 2017 added language allowing a chase if “the occupant(s) of the vehicle are engaged in drug dealing” and if “the necessity of immediate apprehension outweighs the level of danger created by the vehicle pursuit, as in the case of the vehicle engaging in reckless driving.” 

The resulting massive increase in pursuits doesn’t seem to have done much about the hit-and-runs and speeding cited by council members: in 2018 crashes caused by speeding were up by 32 percent and crashes caused by hit-and-run drivers rose 17 percent, the latest police report shows.

Flynn’s successor, Police Chief Alfonso Morales, said the increased pursuits have led to a drop in vehicle theft, carjackings and violent crime. “Is it dangerous? Absolutely it is,” as Morales described the pursuits to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But we’re always looking for an alternative way to make it safer.”

Actually the department had an alternative. Under Flynn it had adopted new technology developed by a private company called Star Chase, whereby police shoot at GPS “bullet” about the size of a soup can that can stick to a fleeing car. A 2014 report found it is effective in 55 percent of cases, meaning it sticks to a car and an arrest is later made. That compares to the apprehension rate of 38 percent for last year’s 940 chases.

“During the year 2016 MPD deployed this technology 156 times, successfully attaching it to fleeing vehicles 112 times,” a past FPC report noted. 

The approach enables police to avoid high-speed chases that often are aggressive adrenaline-fueled contests between officers and a suspect that lose track of innocent bystanders in a dense urban setting. “Studies show they almost go into pure tunnel vision when they begin a pursuit. The adrenaline kicks in,” said Jonathan Farris, a pursuit-safety advocate who lives in Madison, WI, in a story by McClatchey.

Whereas the Star Chase devices “give officers time to [let the adrenaline high pass], so by the time the pursuit is over, they can think more clearly and make better tactical decisions,” as MPD Inspector Terrence Gordon told Governing magazine in 2016. Yet since Flynn left, there has been no discussion of this technology.

A model policy by the International Association of Chiefs of Police recommends pursuits “only if the officer has a reasonable belief that the suspect, if allowed to flee, would present a danger to human life or cause serious injury. In general, pursuits for minor violations are discouraged.”

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, whose board of directors consists of police chiefs, told McClatchey there is no evidence that restrictions on pursuits lead to increases in crime and lawlessness. His organization advocates for sharp restrictions on pursuits.

“There are too many cases of people dying needlessly – tragedies that trump whatever the other arguments there are about people perceiving this as getting away with infractions,” Wexler said. “We’re talking about saving lives here.”

Farris, who heads Pursuit for Change, a Wisconsin-based advocacy group for victims of police pursuits, spoke to the Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission in 2017 to urge it not to push for more pursuits. He has since written letters to the commission urging a reconsideration of the policy, with no response. His impression was that the FPC, though it is supposed to be an independent agency, was simply doing the Common Council’s bidding. 

Farris became an advocate after his son was killed in 2007 during a police pursuit in Massachusetts. “My son and his girlfriend were riding in a taxi which was t-boned by an SUV pursued by the police for an illegal U-turn,” he recalled in an interview with Urban Milwaukee. “My son and the taxi driver were killed and the girl spent years in rehabilitation.” 

Farris believes Milwaukee will eventually be forced to change its policy. “They’ve already killed multiple innocent people. There are going to be more people killed and that’s what’s going to inevitably change the policy. Or there will be a humongous lawsuit against the city.”  

Meanwhile keeps your eyes peeled for high speed chases. On average there were nearly three such pursuits per day last year.

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.

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Milwaukee sees big uptick in police chases

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THIS is NOT success. THIS is FAILURE. Milwaukee #PoliceChase statistics from 2018:

  • 165 individuals in the chased vehicle were injured
  • 22 police employees were injured
  • 38 pursuits ended with an injury to a third party

Milwaukee sees big uptick in police chases after policy changed in 2017

MILWAUKEE — In 2018, the Milwaukee Police Department averaged 18 police chases every week, a big increase from 2017. A new report breaks down what happened after the city changed its pursuit policy. The report looks at how the numbers changed over the last decade, and it’s clear the policy change allowing police officers to pursue reckless drivers had an impact.

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission met Thursday, April 18, to discuss the report.

Beginning in September 2017, Milwaukee police officers were allowed to pursue cars engaged in reckless driving or believed to be engaged in drug dealing.

“We have go to have the ability to go after individuals who are wreaking havoc on our streets,” Alderman Bob Donovan said.

Alderman Donovan supported the change, as did Alderman Russel Stamper.

“I was expecting we’d have a safer community and that we’d hold those people that are driving recklessly accountable,” said Alderman Stamper.

Along with the increase in pursuits came an increase in pursuits that ended in a crash — once again, a sharp spike for 2018.

Below are statistics from 2018:

  • 165 individuals in the chased vehicle were injured
  • 22 police employees were injured
  • 38 pursuits ended with an injury to a third party

“I will speak with the chief and ask him, ‘Is this still the best route to go?’ I think so, but we may have to do some tweaking,” Stamper said.

While Stamper said he wants to evaluate the decision, Donovan’s opinion on the policy hasn’t wavered.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the important thing is that the numbers are being tracked closely. “I think that’s the important thing that there’s always a balance between high-speed chases and public safety,” Mayor Barrett said.

The report breaks down a lot of different numbers, including when and where these police chases are happening, and also, what happens with those pursuits that don’t end in a crash. Less than 38 percent of pursuits end with the subject being taken into custody.

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Milwaukee Police Chase Policy Continues To Raise Questions After Deadly Crashes This Month

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More pursuits. More deaths. More injuries. More sorrow. More politics.
Milwaukee (MPD & MFPC & Milwaukee City Council) continues down a dangerous and unsustainable path.

Thanks to reporter Corri Hess for reaching out to us.

Milwaukee Police Chase Policy Continues To Raise Questions After Deadly Crashes This Month

Report Shows Nearly 155 Percent Chase Increase Since 2017 Policy Change

Published: Monday, April 22, 2019, 4:00pm

Photo by Gretchen Brown, WPR

Two high-speed police chases in Milwaukee since April 11 have left two people dead and at least six others injured.

The deadly chases happened the same month a new study was released showing a nearly 155 percent increase in police chases since the Milwaukee Police Department changed its policy in 2017 to allow officers to pursue reckless vehicles.

On Saturday afternoon a 27-year-old man died after a police chase. Milwaukee police were investigating a drug complaint when the driver involved in the suspected matter refused to stop, said city Police Inspector Jutiki Jackson.

The driver, who has not been identified, reportedly flew through a stop sign at North 13th Street and West Capitol Drive at a high rate of speed. After crashing into an SUV, the driver crashed into a vacant house and the car burst into flames, Jackson said in a press release. The house also started on fire.

The driver of the SUV was treated for minor injuries. The suspect did not survive.

In a separate incident, an 18-year-old man died Monday afternoon, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office, after the man, who has not been identified, was involved in a police chase Thursday. The chase began after a triple shooting. Six others were injured.

Milwaukee Police Officer Charles Irvine Jr, 23, died in June while he and another officer were pursuing a suspect. The squad car crashed as they chased the suspect on the city’s northwest side.

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission voted unanimously in September 2017 to expand the police department’s chase policy to reckless drivers and drug dealers. The change was something former Police Chief Edward Flynn disagreed with, saying at the time, it would endanger more people.

Flynn limited the department’s chase policy in 2010 to officers only being allowed to chase drivers suspected of committing a violent felony after four people were killed in one month.

Jackson did not respond to Wisconsin Public Radio’s request for comment by deadline. He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the police department has no plans to change the police pursuit policy.

“We have individuals who are committing major felonies in the city, violent felonies in the city,” Jackson told the Journal Sentinel. “They’re drug dealing, and they’re destroying neighborhoods. So when they take off from officers, we’re going to pursue.”

Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman said each chase has its own set of individual circumstances. The best answer is for trained police officers to exercise professional judgment when pursing a chase, he said.

Bauman said increased vehicle crashes were a possibility when the city changed its vehicle pursuit policy, but it had to be done.

“We were getting to the point where there was no accountability for some of the really bad driving that was going around and the bad guys knew it,” Bauman said.

There were 940 police chases in 2018, up from 369 in 2017, according to the study presented Thursday to the city Fire and Police Commission. Twenty-five percent of the chases last year resulted in a traffic accident.

During almost 500 of the chases, the police vehicles were being driven more than 75 mph, according to the report.

About 67 percent of the chases were for reckless vehicles; 21 percent were for violent felonies; and 3 percent were drug related, according to the report.

Jonathan Farris, who heads Pursuit for Change, a Wisconsin-based national police pursuit victims’ advocacy group, believes if Milwaukee doesn’t change its policy, there will be more deaths.

“It just doesn’t make sense to have an officer-decided pursuit policy in a city of the density of Milwaukee,” Farris said. “You see from reports the types of things they are pursing. The vast majority of them are reckless behavior. Well, that’s a pretty tough one to define.”

Farris’ son, Paul Farris, was killed on Memorial Day weekend in 2007 when a fleeing driver being chased by a Massachusetts State Trooper struck the cab Paul and his girlfriend were riding in.

Paul and the cab driver were killed. Paul’s girlfriend was critically injured but survived.

“Their whole policy has set them back 20 years,” Farris said regarding the Milwaukee Police Department. “They’ve lost a police officer, they’ve lost citizens. Ultimately, more innocent citizens are going to die. There is a really good chance more of their police officers are going to die and there is no need for that.”

adminMilwaukee Police Chase Policy Continues To Raise Questions After Deadly Crashes This Month
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Until the wheels fall off

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We are reading about more and more cities pursuing insane numbers of vehicles, the majority of which were for misdemeanors and property crimes.

The stats in this story are telling – it’s a horrible result and a horrible attitude. More innocents WILL DIE.

Until the wheels fall off: St. Ann is proud of its rep for police chases, but there are costs.

 

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MILWAUKEE: 2018 Police Pursuit Statistics. A Sad Story

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MILWAUKEE: 2018 Police Pursuit Statistics

These statistics speak for themselves (and that is NOT good).

Thousands of citizens continue to be put in harm’s way by the Milwaukee Police Department’s out-of-control pursuit policy.

2018 Vehicle Pursuit Report
Overview

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Milwaukee Police Pursuit Policies Continue To Endanger And Kill

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Milwaukee continues to ignore the fact that they are endangering citizens every single day. How many more will die before they fix their pursuit policies?

 

Man dead after police chase ends in crash, fire near 13th and Capitol

MILWAUKEE — A 27-year-old man is dead after a Milwaukee police pursuit, that stemmed from a drug complaint, led to a fatal crash near 13th and Capitol on Saturday, April 20.

Home surveillance reveals the moments the speeding vehicle led police on the chase.

“The vehicle burst into flames and ignited the house,” said Milwaukee Police Inspector Jutiki Jackson.

Firefighters rushed to the scene. Vehicle into house near 13th and Capitol in Milwaukee

“The vehicle sheered the gas main to the house, creating a very dangerous situation inside the house,” said Battalion Chief Erich Roden, Milwaukee Police Department.

Police say the chase began as a drug complaint investigation near 40th and Auer.

Officers observed a vehicle that they believed to be involved in a drug dealing complaint and attempted to stop it,” Jackson said.

Jazzmine Salaam says the speeding vehicle smashed into her cousin driving an SUV at the intersection of 13th and Capitol. She was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

“She called and said she was in a car accident. I came as fast as I could,” Salaam said.

Salaam says her cousin was running errands when a car came out of nowhere.

“She was just going to Walgreens, going to get medicine and got hit,” Salaam said.

A chase ending in crash and chaotic scene. A sight some hope to never see again.

“Everybody should slow down so we can enjoy our summer because it doesn’t last long,” Salaam said.

The driver of the fleeing vehicle was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing.

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You Chase; They Die; You Get Sued

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This just keeps happening and happening. Poor decisions. #PoliceChases that should not have occurred. More INNOCENT citizens dying. More municipalities being sued for actions that should not have occurred.

So much more training is needed. Greater usage of technology is expected. Pursuit Policies must be tough (violent felony only) and must be adhered to by all officers.

 

Their son died in a police chase. His parents claim St. Charles County police ignored orders to end pursuit

Original story: https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/their-son-died-in-a-police-chase-his-parents-claim/article_6276518b-b46e-53e6-8838-da5292727a4c.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share

WELDON SPRING • The parents of a driver who was killed in a police pursuit in November say in a lawsuit that a St. Charles County police officer ignored two orders to end the chase before the crash.

The parents of Krystofer M. Batsell, 21, of St. Charles County, who was killed in the Nov. 17 crash, originally sued the driver who was fleeing police, Aron J. Richardson, of Union, in December.

Late Tuesday, they added St. Charles County, police and Officer Amanda Hopkins to the suit.

Kenneth and Constance Batsell’s suit, filed in St. Charles County Circuit Court, says police tried to arrest Richardson for traffic warrants, sparking the chase. They twice ignored a supervisor’s order to end the chase, even after a near-miss with another car, the suit says. Richardson, who was in a 1998 Dodge Durango, ran a red light and struck Batsell, who was in a 2002 Ford Focus, the suit says.

Batsell died about 45 minutes after the crash. A passenger in Richardson’s SUV was also injured.

Hopkins originally stopped Richardson for driving 73 mph in a 55 mph zone, the suit says. It says Hopkins then violated her department’s pursuit policy and was negligent while pursuing Richardson.

A county statement in response to the lawsuit said: “The County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has filed charges against Aron Richardson in the death of Krystofer Batsell. The County believes Richardson’s actions are the sole cause of the death.”

“The focus is on prosecuting Richardson for the crimes the County believes he committed that led to the death of Mr. Batsell,” the statement said.

The Batsells’ suit says Richardson was speeding and impaired by drugs or alcohol. Richardson is facing charges in St. Charles County Circuit Court of second-degree murder, resisting arrest, DWI and possession of a controlled substance. He has pleaded not guilty.

Grant Boyd, the attorney for the Batsells, said one of the two officers chasing Richardson stopped when a police supervisor ordered them to over the radio, but Hopkins kept going. Boyd said he obtained audio of that radio conversation.

“There were two very clear terminate orders,” Boyd said. “There is no other radio traffic during either terminate order. It’s not like it was overlapped by someone else.”

Boyd said about 10 seconds passed between the lieutenant’s two orders. The crash happened about 20 to 25 seconds after the first order, Boyd said.

Boyd said he knew Hopkins didn’t stop the pursuit because video showed that the lights on her car were still on at the crash site and that she was trailing the suspect’s vehicle.

“The pursuit should have never happened,” Boyd said. “She should have terminated it at the time she got the terminate orders. Had she done that, this never would have happened.”

Boyd said he didn’t think Richardson would have run the red light — killing Batsell — if the officer had stopped the pursuit.

Boyd said he thought the police, county, the officer and Richardson were all responsible. He said it would be up to a jury to decide how much responsibility each had.

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Ohio Police Pursuit Legislation

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Model Pursuit Policy & Harsher Penalties

Dear Representative Plummer.

I applaud your efforts to reduce injuries and deaths of innocent Ohio citizens caught up in unnecessary non-violent felony police chases. Ohio
has, sadly, pursuistories in media nearly every single day.

Your career as a law enforcement professional and now state representative place you in an incredible position to make a true difference. And I
want to offer any support that I can.
My son was killed in 2007. an innocent bystander killed as the result of a pursuit after a man who made an illegal u-tum and then fled the police. In addition to my son, a taxi driver was killed and my son’s girlfriend spent months in the hospital and years in rehab. NONE OF THIS WAS NECESSARY. yet ii is occurring many. many times every day.

One FBI study estimated nearly 68,000 pursuits across the US in a single year. And 90% of those are for misdemeanors or property crimes. Our organization, Pursuit For Change (https://pursultforchange.org) ls working to reduce non-violent felony pursuits and to provide support for law enforcement – gaining them knowledge of and access to funding for pursuireduction technology and the newest driver training options.

As you have pointed out, the issue of so many different cross jurisdictional pursuit policies only confuses the issues more. A single, more restrictive state policy will certainly SAVE LIVES.

Please feel free to reach out if can be or any help. have the support of many law enforcement officers, including major cities chiefs. Thank you again for recognizing this problem and, rather than ignoring it or hoping for it to go away, taking proactive steps to reduce Ohio citizen injuries and deaths.

Kindest regards.

Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate
Pursuit For Change

 

Double-fatal police chase: Pursuits ‘2nd most dangerous thing’ for cops

Original Story: https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/double-fatal-police-chase-pursuits-2nd-most-dangerous-thing-for-cops/KzTneFfbVmvdAc1sJObOII/

Ohio governor, local lawmaker talk about legislation regarding fleeing drivers.

The state representative who served a decade as Montgomery County sheriff talked this week with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine about new standards for police pursuits and stiffer sentences for those who trigger them.

State Rep. Phil Plummer said uniform pursuit rules would increase public safety for an action that has led to at least five local deaths in the past year.

A pair of teens – one of which was a 15-year-old girl whose name was released Tuesday – were killed while riding Sunday in Trotwood in a speeding, fleeing car that hit a Greater Dayton RTA bus after a failed police traffic stop.

RELATED: Double-fatal crash with RTA bus latest deadly wreck involving area police chases

“Chases are the second most dangerous thing a law enforcement officer does. Number 1 is discharging a firearm,” Plummer said.

“We’re very well-trained. We have strict policies on discharging a firearm,” he said. “But unfortunately, our chase policies, they’re all over the place. They’re like spilled milk.”

The 40th District Republican said he spoke with the governor about proposing legislation using a state report DeWine once commissioned as Ohio attorney general after a 2016 fatal, high-speed Huber Heights police pursuit that ended with the death of a third-party driver.

“There are different policies in different jurisdictions,” Plummer said. “So it’s very confusing when a chase occurs: Can this jurisdiction engage? Can they not? Dispatchers are trying to vet all of this while they’re sending in help and resources. It’s very complicated.”

RELATED: Latest deadly police chase: ‘We’re just killing too many innocent people’

Plummer said he’s not locked in to having a statewide pursuit policy.

“I’d like to see at least a countywide…general pursuit policy that we all understand and follow,” he said.

The 2017 task force report issued by the attorney general’s office under DeWine went to Ohio’s nearly 1,000 law enforcement agencies with a list of “best practices” of when and how to pursue.

Under the initiation of pursuit procedures, the advisory group’s report states, “the policy should distinguish violent felonies and property offenses, or OVIs and traffic violations.”

Why Trotwood police sought to stop a Pontiac on Free Pike on Sunday has not been publicly released. Police Chief Erik Wilson spoke only briefly Sunday about what led up to the wreck.

RELATED: Judge: Deadly police chase defendant ‘lit the fuse’ for Lebanon Realtor’s death

The Dayton Daily News on Monday requested police reports, cruiser and traffic cameras, and additional information about the crash, but Trotwood police as of Tuesday afternoon did not provide any new information on the case.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office on Tuesday identified Mya’nie Nabors, a 15-year-old Trotwood-Madison student, as a fatality in the crash that also killed Kyren Wright, 18, of Dayton.

They died after the car – driven at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour by Christopher Baker, 18, of Dayton – hit the RTA bus, causing the car to burst into flames, authorities said.

The rate of speeds for police vehicles in pursuits should be tempered by the seriousness of the crime, said Thomas Hagel, professor emeritus at the University of Dayton Law School.

RELATED: Car in deadly police chase ‘torn in 3 pieces,’ back seat in Dayton field

In cases of violent crimes, he said, “then I think the officer should have a wider discretion on initiating a chase and….speeds.”

However, “Once an officer has initiated a chase, he has created two sources of danger. One is the fleeing vehicle as well as his vehicle,” Hagel said.

Plummer went a bit further.

“It’s not worth chasing anybody right now if it’s not a violent felony,” he said.

The punishment for those who flee law enforcement officers is an important consideration for new guidelines, Plummer said.

RELATED: A woman’s death following a police pursuit has again raised questions about chasing fleeing vehicles

The basic offense of fleeing or eluding is considered a first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio, although fleeing or eluding also can be a felony under some circumstances. Currently, the penalty for misdemeanor fleeing or eluding is up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

Plummer said a better deterrent would be a five-year sentence – with no plea bargains — for those convicted.

He said, “We need the balance. We have to realize, we may kill somebody’s family chasing this one person.”

In September 2018, during a Moraine police pursuit of a vehicle reported stolen, Officer Matt Barrie was within division guidelines and was given the go-ahead by a superior. He reached speeds of up to 80 miles per hour on Ohio 741 while chasing a stolen Jeep, records show.

RELATED: Longtime Realtor struck and killed in high-speed police chase

Barrie’s cruiser then collided a car driven by Mary Taulbee, an uninvolved motorist whose vehicle had been hit by another car seeking to avoid the oncoming stolen Jeep, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Alyssa Irwin-Debraux of Dayton was the driver of the stolen Jeep, police records show. She wrecked it minutes later near the Dayton Mall and was arrested.

Earlier this year, she was sentenced to 13 years in prison in connection with Taulbee’s death.

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Grand Forks Pursuits Double

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By the numbers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Officers involved

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

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

Sometimes, public property is damaged.

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

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

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

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

‘Reasonable suspicion’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fatal ends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ones that got away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real life vs. movies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delong also was killed after officers fired at him.

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

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

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

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

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Kansas Law proposes to remove liability for police driving recklessly

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Once again, powerful lobbying groups are simply more concerned with saving money than they are of saving the lives of innocent citizens.  This “problem” could be alleviated if the municipalities adopted significantly more restrictive pursuit policies, increased officer training and introduced new pursuit reduction technology..

 

Bill inspired by high-speed chase in Topeka would remove liability for police

Original story: https://www.cjonline.com/news/20190130/bill-inspired-by-high-speed-chase-in-topeka-would-remove-liability-for-police

Legislation introduced by the Kansas League of Municipalities would strike from state law a requirement for police officers engaged in a high-speed chase to drive with regard for others’ safety.

The proposed change stems from litigation over a 2010 collision in Topeka. A man fleeing an off-duty Capitol Police officer in a stolen car at speeds of 100 mph through city streets crashed into a pickup and seriously injured its two occupants.

district court judge rejected claims contending the officer, Patrick Saleh, didn’t have a valid reason to initiate and continue the high-speed chase. An appellate court reversal pointed to a section of state law that says drivers of emergency vehicles have a duty to consider the safety of everyone.

The case is now before the Kansas Supreme Court.

Amanda Stanley, general counsel for the League of Kansas Municipalities, said the case sparked discussion about state law and whether police pursuits merit an exception. The league wants to remove the obligation to drive with a due regard for safety.

“A law enforcement officer’s pursuit of fleeing offenders is inherent in the officer’s duty to protect the public and often involves split-second decisions that are easy to second guess in retrospect,” Stanley said.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee hearing testimony this week about House Bill 2065 pointed out that, as it stands, the law doesn’t distinguish between police and other operators of emergency vehicles. The same standards appear to apply to ambulance drivers, volunteer firefighters and possibly funeral procession guides.

Rep. Russ Jennings, R-Lakin, said the law also seems to apply to other police activity, such as an officer responding to a distress call or bank robbery.

“It’s crazy to have a cop going out here 100 mph inside the City of Topeka limits,” he said. “That would be pretty foolish and reckless.”

Facts of the situation need to be considered, he said. David Morantz, a Kansas City attorney whose firm worked on the case in question, recommended that lawmakers wait for the high court to issue a ruling before they reconfigure state law.

“This bill is either a very subtle way to completely change the law in Kansas and immunize law enforcement officers from even the most reckless conduct,” Morantz said, “or it’s a bill that the proponents and sponsors of it simply don’t understand.”

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Aged pursuit data, but still very pertinent

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Aged pursuit data, but still very pertinent

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/state-and-local-law-enforcement-agencies-conducted-an-estimated-68000-vehicle-pursuits-in-2012-300454182.html

State And Local Law Enforcement Agencies Conducted An Estimated 68,000 Vehicle Pursuits In 2012 

NEWS PROVIDED BY
Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs 
May 09, 2017, 10:00 ET
     
WASHINGTON, May 9, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — General purpose state and local law enforcement agencies conducted an estimated 68,000 vehicle pursuits in 2012 for an average of 186 pursuits per day, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. Local police departments conducted most of these pursuits (about 40,000) followed by sheriffs’ offices (about 18,000) and state police and highway patrol agencies (about 10,000). 

These findings are based on data from the most recent (2013) BJS Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics survey, which included a nationally representative sample of general purpose state and local law enforcement agencies. It excluded federal agencies and special jurisdiction agencies (such as campus and park police). 

In 2012, all local police departments serving 250,000 or more residents and nearly all (95 percent) of those serving 50,000 to 249,999 residents conducted vehicle pursuits. In comparison, fewer than half of local police departments serving fewer than 10,000 residents conducted vehicle pursuits. 

Among sheriffs’ offices, about 9 in 10 agencies serving 100,000 or more residents, eight in 10 agencies serving 25,000 to 99,999 residents and seven in 10 agencies serving 10,000 to 24,999 residents conducted vehicle pursuits in 2012. In comparison, 43 percent of sheriffs’ offices serving fewer than 10,000 residents conducted vehicle pursuits.

During the 20-year aggregate period from 1996 to 2015, police vehicle pursuits resulted in more than 6,000 fatal crashes, according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which is maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation. These fatal crashes resulted in more than 7,000 deaths, an average of 355 per year (about one per day). Fatalities peaked in 2006 and 2007, with more than 400 deaths each year.

As of January 2013, all state police and highway patrol agencies and all local police departments serving 25,000 or more residents had a written vehicle pursuit policy. At least 95 percent of sheriffs’ offices in each population category of 10,000 or more had a written vehicle pursuit policy.

An estimated 2 percent of local police departments and 1 percent of sheriffs’ offices prohibited vehicle pursuits. No state police or highway patrol agencies prohibited pursuits. Most local police departments (71 percent), sheriffs’ offices (63 percent) and state law enforcement agencies (53 percent) had a policy that restricted pursuits based on specific criteria, such as speed, type of offense and surrounding conditions. 

About 30 percent of state police and highway patrol agencies permitted officers to use their own discretion when deciding to initiate a vehicle pursuit. Smaller percentages of sheriffs’ offices (17 percent) and local police departments (13 percent) had discretionary pursuit policies. 

Agencies with a policy that left pursuit decisions to an officer’s discretion had the highest vehicle pursuit rate (17 pursuits per 100 officers employed), while agencies that discouraged or prohibited pursuits had the lowest pursuit rate (2 per 100 officers). Agencies with a restrictive policy conducted 8 pursuits per 100 officers employed. Agencies with discretionary pursuit policies employed 11 percent of all officers and conducted 19 percent of all vehicle pursuits. In comparison, agencies with restrictive pursuit policies employed 78 percent of all officers and accounted for 69 percent of all pursuits. 

The report, Police Vehicle Pursuits, 2012-2013 (NCJ 250545), was written by BJS statistician Brian A. Reaves (former). The report, related documents and additional information about BJS’s statistical publications and programs can be found on the BJS website at www.bjs.gov.

The Office of Justice Programs, headed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan R. Hanson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has six bureaus and offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART). More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.

CONTACT: KARA MCCARTHY 
(202)598-9320
EMAIL: Kara.McCarthy@ojp.usdoj.gov 
www.bjs.gov              

SOURCE Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs
Related Links
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov

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Georgia Police Pursuit legislation

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Georgia Police Pursuit legislation

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

 

Jonesboro Democrat wants police chase policy for all of Georgia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Police pursuits: Are they worth risk of injury, death?

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Police pursuits: Are they worth risk of injury, death?

An OpEd by Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

Hi Mike,

Merry Christmas!

Thanks for an interesting and in-depth story regarding police pursuits in your area. I am encouraged when reporters delve into this national issue.

It is very clear that Richmond Police Department, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and Indiana State Police all have weak pursuit policies compared with more progressive jurisdictions across the US. Those stronger policies specifically define (and limit) when an officer can and cannot chase.

Over and over and over we listen to chiefs and sheriffs with similarly lacking policies espouse their excellent training and how qualified their officers are to decide when and how long and how far and how fast to pursue. Yet over 90% of pursuits are started after a non violent felony crimes – crimes which were not endangering anyone, like 4-year-old Madilynn Roberts above, UNTIL THE PURSUIT BEGAN

As a result of departments continuing to sanction pursuits for non violent felony crimes and misdemeanor infractions, thousands of innocent citizens are killed and/or maimed annually. Additionally, on average, seven (7) LEOs are killed and scores more are injured. Six (6) officers have been killed in pursuit-related crashes so far in 2018. 

Although there are a handful of states that mandate reporting of pursuit-related deaths, there is still no mandatory 50-State or Federal tracking of police chase-related deaths or injuries.  As a result, we know there are many more pursuit injuries and deaths that are simply tallied as vehicularaccidents.”

Yet dangerous police chases persist like an antibiotic-resistant pandemic. Way too often we hear the exact same comment from departmental leadership, “We feel we’re doing as much as we can.”  But they are NOT.  If they were truly doing “all that they could,” then their pursuit-driving policies would be significantly stronger and they would cease to put their officers and innocent citizen at risk for petty crimes and misdemeanor traffic violations.

At Pursuit For Change and Pursuit Response we are working to highlight and actually do something about this massive public travesty. We are working diligently with state and Federal legislators for:

– Mandatory Federal Statistical Tracking of pursuit injuries and deaths
– Greater grant funding to support law enforcement usage of pursuit reduction technology
– Law enforcement funding for significantly more pursuit driving training
– Pursuit policy modifications including greater inter-jurisdictional policy consistency and movement toward violent felony-only pursuits

Thanks again for your reporting. It is critical that you and other reporters keep asking the difficult questions. Too many folks in the general public have no idea how pervasive the #PoliceChase problem is. And too often they find out TOO LATE – only after a loved one is killed or seriously injured. 

So, to answer your question, non violent felony pursuits ARE SIMPLY NOT worth the risk of injury and death to LEOs and innocent bystanders

 

Police pursuits: Are they worth risk of injury, death?

https://www.pal-item.com/story/news/crime/2018/12/21/police-pursuits-they-worth-risk-injury-death/2383055002/

by Mike Emery (@PI_Emory) (mwemery@pal-item.com)
Updated 9:36 a.m. ET Dec. 21, 2018

RICHMOND, Ind. — A tree occupied space where the white Ford’s passenger side should have been. The flying car had smashed sideways into the tree and wrapped itself partially around the trunk.

It looked horrendous as Richmond Fire Department personnel worked to free a 23-year-old passenger from the vehicle. Haley Caldwell and 4-year-old Madilynn Roberts both sustained serious injuries when the 19-year-old driver, Daniel Zenon Arguijo, lost control of the Ford while leading police on a high-speed pursuit Nov. 30 down U.S. 40. The incident sparked a social-media debate about the value of that pursuit versus the risk associated with it.

The injuries were serious, but not fatal. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case when suspects flee police. And about a third of those who do die aren’t even involved in the pursuits.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released statistics that the United States recorded 7,090 deaths related to police pursuits for the 20-year period from 1996 through 2015. That averages 355 — or nearly one a day — per year. Of those deaths, 88 were law enforcement officers, 4,637 were in the vehicle being chased, 2,088 were in a vehicle not involved and 277 were innocent bystanders.

Which leads to the important question for communities and law enforcement agencies: Are police pursuits worth it?

Richmond Police Department, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and Indiana State Police all have policies and procedures in place that permit officers to pursue fleeing suspects at the officer’s discretion. Nationwide, some agencies absolutely prohibit vehicle pursuits. Those agencies decided the risks to citizen and officer safety outweigh the need for suspect apprehension.

Accidents, injuries and worse occur regularly nationwide when drivers flee law enforcement and officers choose to pursue. According to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics’ analysis of the International Association of Chiefs of Police pursuit database, 15 percent of pursuits end in crashes. The database recorded 5,568 pursuits from 115 agencies from 2009 to 2013. One in every 200 pursuits in the database ended with a fatality, and there were two serious and 10 minor injuries for every 100 pursuits.

Those serious accidents and deaths occur in Wayne County, too.

Police pursuits in Wayne County over the years

A review of Pal Item stories involving police pursuits from 2011 through 2018 revealed 18 chases that ended in crashes. Two of those crashes killed the driver of the fleeing vehicle.

On March 11, 2013, Richmond Police Department pursued a wanted man onto Indiana 227. Even though officers discontinued the pursuit because of weather conditions and the dangerous way the suspect operated his Pontiac, the vehicle left the roadway and struck two trees, killing the driver.

On May 23, 2017, the Indiana State Police pulled over a driver in Henry County, and when the officer suspected impairment and asked the driver to step out of the car, the driver sped off. When entering Wayne County, the Cadillac was speeding enough to fly over a cable barrier in the median into oncoming westbound traffic. A head-on collision with a pickup killed the fleeing driver and injured two people in the pickup.

Even since the Nov. 30 incident, there have been pursuit incidents in Wayne County and Indiana.

A Muncie man escaped one multi-county pursuit of his Ford on Dec. 17, then led another pursuit after state troopers located him in Wayne County. David Reed Shoemaker, 43, lost control of his Ford, which left Mineral Springs Road and came to rest on its side in a wooded area. Shoemaker was not seriously injured.

An Indiana police officer was not as lucky Dec. 12. Hundreds attended Tuesday’s funeral services for Sgt. Benton Bertram, 33, in Charlestown, Indiana. The nine-year veteran of the Charlestown Police Department died when his police vehicle left Indiana 3 in Scott County and struck a tree. According to the online Officer Down Memorial Page, Bertram is the sixth law enforcement officer in the United States to die this year while engaged in a police pursuit.

Officers constantly balance community safety with the need to engage in pursuits or let suspects go

Of the 7,090 deaths related to pursuits from 1996 through 2015, 192 occurred in Indiana and 231 in Ohio. Seven of the Indiana deaths were police officers, 129 were people in the fleeing vehicle, 53 were people in another vehicle and three were bystanders. In Ohio, one was an officer, 100 were in fleeing vehicles, 116 were in other vehicles and 14 were bystanders.

By any count, pursuits pose one of the most dangerous actions police officers face. Officers must constantly balance community safety with the need to pursue. Is the community safe if officers let the suspect go? Is the community safe if officers continue to pursue?

It’s a tough spot with no easy answers.

“We’ll let people go we shouldn’t have,” RPD Chief Jim Branum said, “but it’s better to err on the side of caution.”

Branum said RPD has had 14 vehicle pursuits during 2018. None of those ended in an accident or with injuries.

And that’s how pursuits most often end. The International Association of Chiefs of Police database shows the pursued driver gives up and stops 29 percent of the time and 25 percent end when the police discontinue the pursuit, 17 percent end with the suspect eluding officers, 9 percent end with police intervention and 2 percent end with the suspect vehicle becoming disabled. Those cause no harm; however, the 15 percent that involve collisions do.

And that’s a rate too steep for some. The Bureau of Justice Statistics said an estimated 2 percent of local police forces and 1 percent of sheriff’s offices prohibited vehicle pursuits completely. Allowing a suspect to escape, though, runs against officers’ instincts.

“It’s tough to tell a young policeman to let a violator go, because catching the bad guy is what they’re hired to do,” Branum said. “Then, letting this person go, is that a danger to the public, as well?”

RPD, sheriff’s department and state police policies allow pursuits; however, they list factors an officer should consider when deciding to pursue. The factors include:

The severity of the offense committed by the suspect, which can be complicated by the fact the act of fleeing in a vehicle is a felony itself in Indiana;

  • Whether the suspect can be identified for later arrest;
  • The safety of those involved and the general public;
  • The amount of traffic on the roadway;
  • The time of day;
  • The speeds associated with the pursuit:
  • The road conditions; and
  • The perceived driving ability of the suspect, such as if the driver an inexperienced teenager.

Those factors must continuously be considered as the officer pursues. The three departments also allow officers and supervisors the authority to discontinue a pursuit at any time.

“There are lots of things to consider in a short amount of time,” said Branum, who noted he has discontinued pursuits as a supervisor. “And they’re all things you learned after becoming a police officer.”

The rules also lay out procedures and techniques for the execution of pursuits. All three agencies also then require a review of each pursuit that analyzes justification for the pursuit, the communication involved, the supervisors’ roles, equipment or training needs, disciplinary concerns and policy or procedure revisions.

Sheriff Jeff Cappa said the sheriff’s department policy meets the standards established by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, which has accredited the agency.

“I have a very professional staff, and they’re trained very well,” said Cappa, whose agency was involved in five pursuits during 2017 with no accidents or injuries. “They understand what the job requires in those situations.”

Traffic violations are primary reason why police pursuits begin, but officers often left wondering why suspects flee

The chase of Arguijo that ended with the Ford wrapped around a tree began with Arguijo running a stop sign and nearly striking Patrolman Adam Blanton’s vehicle. Arguijo sped away when Blanton turned to attempt a traffic stop.

That’s the most common reason for pursuits to begin, according to the Chiefs of Police database. Traffic violations trigger 69 percent of the pursuits, including 16 percent for speeding, 13 percent for reckless driving and 12 percent for suspicion of impaired driving. Suspects thought to have committed non-violent felonies — often auto theft — account for 12 percent of the pursuits, violent felonies for 9 percent and misdemeanors for 8 percent.

Pal Item stories about pursuits included those beginning for traffic stops, but officers also pursued a Florida murder suspect, an attempted murder suspect, robbery suspects, break-in suspects, suspects wanted on warrants, counterfeiters and suspected stolen vehicles. Even with traffic stops, there’s reason for officers to wonder why a suspect would commit a felony — the fleeing — to avoid a simple traffic citation.

“You don’t know why the person is fleeing,” Branum said.

During Blanton’s pursuit of Arguijo, the officer showed awareness of the traffic conditions on U.S. 40, which were lighter than expected at the time of the pursuit, and the fact other drivers were aware of Blanton and pulling to the side even before Arguijo reached them, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Blanton also noted he could not get close enough to procure Arguijo’s license plate number and that he was losing ground to Arguijo.

Still, Arguijo lost control when a vehicle pulled out of a shopping center entrance in front of him. Arguijo was later found to be under the influence of methamphetamine when he fled, running six stop signs and five red lights before he crashed. He has been charged with Level 5 felony resisting law enforcement causing serious injury, two counts of Level 6 felony driving under the influence of a controlled substance and causing serious injury, Level 6 felony criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon, Class A misdemeanor operating under the influence of a controlled substance while endangering a person and Class C misdemeanor operating under the influence of methamphetamine.

Shoemaker, who also crashed his Ford, fled to avoid a traffic stop in Muncie. He led police through four counties before his crash west of Centerville. Shoemaker was jailed on charges of Level 5 operating as a habitual traffic violator with a lifetime suspension and Level 6 felony resisting law enforcement.

Both men exceeded 90 miles per hour while they were being chased. The pursuit database shows 23 percent of pursuits topped 90 mph and 45 percent exceeded 70 mph. Wayne County pursuits regularly reach high speeds because of the roads that cross the county, including Interstate 70, U.S. 40, U.S. 35, Indiana 38 and Indiana 1.

Those roads also contribute to pursuits entering the county from other Indiana counties, such as Shoemaker, and from other states. Pal Item stories reflected pursuits that began in Delaware, Randolph, Henry, Union and Marion counties in Indiana, plus Preble and Montgomery counties in Ohio. In those instances, the Wayne County officers assist other agencies. On I-70, Branum said, local officers often are just asked to block exit ramps to keep the pursuit on the highway.

How police pursuits end: from stop sticks to roadblocks and other immobilization techniques

The proximity to the state border also means local pursuits travel into Ohio. Agency policies dictate what pursuits may be continued into Ohio and local officers’ roles once entering the neighboring state.

While the suspect driver in a pursuit might have a destination in mind, leaving pursuing officers “trying to keep up,” Branum said, officers have the advantage of their radios. That’s especially true now that the county has a centralized 911 center that dispatches calls for all county agencies. Dispatchers can communicate with every unit in the county, plus alert neighboring counties and states during a pursuit.

“It’s nearly impossible to outrun the radio, even if you can outrun the car,” Branum said.

The best conclusion to any pursuit is for the fleeing driver to pull over and surrender. Some will bail from their vehicles and attempt to run away from officers, which still is safer than high-speed pursuits. Other than that, officers can use tire deflators (stop sticks), roadblocks and sheer numbers to stop a fleeing vehicle. Only the state police permits precision immobilization techniques where officers use their vehicles to contact the fleeing vehicle, and then only under strict circumstances, such as lower speeds and by trained officers.

“The strategy is that there are enough units in the area so that the driver decides there’s no place to go,” said Branum, who noted stop sticks are never used on fleeing motorcycles that would crash as a result.

Pal Item pursuit stories noted five pursuits that were ended using stop sticks. Other pursuits ended when the fleeing drivers pulled into driveways, abandoned vehicles and ran, plowed into farm fields, traveled into yards, drove through a fence, struck law enforcement vehicles and crashed.

At least two technology-based ideas have been developed to assist officers in pursuits, but neither has become commonly accepted or used.

One idea involves firing a small, adhesive, GPS tag onto a fleeing vehicle from a launcher located behind the police vehicle’s grille. That allows officers to back off and track the suspect vehicle on a computer, delaying the arrest but eliminating a possibly dangerous pursuit. One drawback, however, is that a police vehicle equipped to fire the GPS tag must get close enough to the fleeing vehicle to attach the tag.

Another idea involves using a remote to disable the engine of a fleeing vehicle. Branum said he wonders how the fleeing vehicle would react if the engine suddenly shuts down at high speed.

Of pursuits in the Chiefs of Police database, 57 percent ended within three minutes and 66 percent covered less than three miles. The data shows that the longer a pursuit lasts and when more law enforcement vehicles become involved the likelihood of a crash increases.

Cappa and Branum said their officers are trained in emergency vehicle operation when they attend the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy for their initial training. The state then requires additional annual training in operating emergency vehicles. The training is classroom training and in-car training. Cappa said his officers received both kinds of training this year, while Branum said RPD alternates years between classroom and road training.

The road training, he said, usually is done at the Richmond Municipal Airport on a timed course that tests the necessary skills. Officers drive their day-to-day vehicles when training.

“We feel we’re doing as much as we can,” Branum said.

That training, however, does not make officers, such as Sgt. Bertram, infallible when in pursuit. Also, the drivers fleeing from law enforcement do not receive such training. And their vehicles might not be pursuit ready such as law enforcement pursuit-certified vehicles. Those drivers, much like Arguijo and Shoemaker, can lose control and crash.

In the end, officers must quickly and continuously weigh many factors and reach a decision about engaging in a pursuit.

“I think part of how you combat that is have a policy in place, have guidelines and lay down for the officers that these are the rules,” Branum said. “I think we’ve done well the past three of four years I’ve had reason to monitor it.”

Most times the officer will apprehend a driver who chose to flee, and sometimes that driver will present a clear — if not deadly — danger to society. But other times, suspects, police officers and innocent bystanders will also continue to sustain serious injuries and lose their lives because of police pursuits.

Which leads back to the important question for communities and law enforcement agencies: Are police pursuits worth it?

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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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Officers Suspended for Bad Pursuit

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Thanks Chief. A difficult decision, I’m sure. But necessary to change the culture and to save bystander and officer lives.

Original Article here: http://www.tampabay.com/news/pinellas/clearwater/clearwater-cops-suspended-for-unauthorized-car-chase-20180926/

Clearwater cops suspended for unauthorized car chase

by Kathryn Varn (@kathrynvarn)

CLEARWATER — Police Chief Dan Slaughter suspended two officers and a detective after an internal investigation found an unauthorized car chase led to a crash that hurt an officer and two civilians.

Det. Frederick Lise, who led the pursuit after a stolen car drove away from a traffic stop in Largo, got 10 days suspension for violating two policies related to operating department vehicles and insubordination and candor. He will also be removed from the agency’s Special Enforcement Unit.

Officers Langston Woodie and Jesse Myers, the latter of whom was hurt in the crash at Rosery Road and Clearwater-Largo Road, were handed five days of suspension for violating the agency’s operating department vehicles policy. Woodie will also be removed from the Community Problem Response Team.

“We are sorry that a civilian got hurt. We’re concerned that our own employee got hurt,” Slaughter said. “We recognize we’ve made some errors here that we’re responsible for.”

The officers and detective could not be reached for comment.

One of the injured civilians, Zoe Applegate, declined to comment through her St. Petersburg lawyer, Sean McQuaid. But McQuaid said Applegate, 20, broke her wrist and underwent emergency wrist surgery at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. She also had multiple broken ribs and head and neck injuries. Her 2015 Chevy Cruze was totaled, he said.

“It was an extremely serious accident,” McQuaid said. “They had a green light and the officer just went right through the stoplight … It had to be a traumatic impact and a surprise to her.”

The passenger in her car, William Gamble, could not be reached for comment. His lawyer did not return a call requesting comment.

According to the internal investigation, a woman reported that her black Ford Expedition had been stolen at 9:25 p.m. May 29 from the Ross Norton Recreation Complex on S Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. About 23 minutes later, Lise, who was hired in 2014, saw the stolen car and started following as it traveled south on Missouri Avenue from Druid Road. Woodie, who was hired in 2016, and Myers, who was hired in 2007, drove up to help. A fourth officer positioned himself down the road to throw tire deflation sticks if needed.

The car pulled into a Wawa on Missouri Avenue just north of Rosery Road in Largo, according to the investigation. The officers tried to conduct a traffic stop, but the Expedition got away and pulled out of the Wawa.

What they should have done at that point, Slaughter said, was stop following the car, head back to the city and notify Largo police. Under Clearwater police policy, typically only violent felonies warrant a pursuit. A stolen car does not.

“It’s tough to do. I’ll admit it,” the chief said. “You get in this profession to try to catch bad guys, so as a police officer it’s very difficult to turn around and go the other direction, but it’s for good reason that this policy exists.”

Instead, the officers chased the car west on Rosery Road and through a red light at the intersection of Clearwater-Largo Road. None had their lights and sirens on — another problem, had the pursuit been authorized to begin with, Slaughter said.

“Even if a person had a misunderstanding on what he could or couldn’t do, there’s no excuse for not utilizing lights and sirens when following a vehicle like that,” the chief said.

Lise, Woodie and the driver of the stolen car made it through. Myers collided with Applegate’s car, heading south on Clearwater-Largo Road, in the intersection. His last recorded speed before the crash was 42 mph.A bystander told investigators he ran up to Myers’ car and started pounding on the door. The officer wasn’t responsive at first. When he came to, his first instinct was to check on the civilians in the other car and his police dog, Axe.

Applegate and Gamble were taken to Bayfront. Myers was treated at Morton Plant Hospital. Axe was checked out and cleared at an animal hospital.

Meanwhile, Lise and Woodie continued after the stolen car until it stopped at 18th Street SW and 10th Avenue SW. The occupants got out of the car and ran away. A suspect was later arrested after investigators found DNA and fingerprints linking him to the car.

All three officers said in interviews with investigators that they believe they violated the pursuit policy. Lise, who is also a member of a multi-department habitual offender monitoring task force, got an additional 5-day suspension because he didn’t keep his supervisors in both the task force and Clearwater police fully informed on what was happening.

It put the other two officers, knowing Lise was in the task force with other supervisors, “in a little bit of a quandary,” Slaughter said.

Times senior researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or kvarn@tampabay.com. Follow @kathrynvarn.

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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.”

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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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Editorial: Don’t put innocent lives in danger with high-speed police chases

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By the St. Louis Post Dispatch Editorial Board
Posted on May 11, 2017

A 9-year-old boy died Friday from injuries in a high-speed police chase that ended when the fleeing vehicle crashed into his family’s car near St. Louis Lambert International Airport. The mother of one of three men killed in a police chase in 2014 filed a federal lawsuit last week accusing officers and troopers with the Missouri Highway Patrol and city of Pevely of conducting a reckless chase. These are two examples among many that highlight the need for a regionwide pursuit policy that emphasizes restricting such chases.

Clear minds rarely prevail when vehicles are racing down highways at high speeds with motorists and pedestrians scrambling to get out of the way. Officers and the public are put at risk by chases that end too often with injured bystanders or passengers.

There are alternatives. Police sometimes throw down spike strips to impede fleeing vehicles, which is a good use of limited technology. They could also use a newer technology that enables them to shoot GPS devices that attach to fleeing vehicles. Helicopter pursuits also remain a viable, lower-risk option.

St. Louis city and county police have limited pursuit rules and do not chase traffic violators, but some neighboring jurisdictions do. In the situation involving the child who died Friday, a Normandy officer was chasing a stolen SUV whose driver had committed a moving violation on Interstate 70.

A 16-year-old was driving the SUV with two 15-year-old passengers. They sustained minor injuries and were taken into custody. Lambert airport is about 5 miles from Normandy, which means the officer crossed jurisdictions in pursuit.

Normandy police said shortly after the April 25 accident that they were investigating to see whether the chase met department policies. Normandy police said Wednesday they were still investigating. It remains unclear when police discovered that the SUV was stolen or had been carjacked — two factors that might have helped justify a pursuit.

Police owe the public answers when a high-speed chase ends in tragedy. The child’s 5-year-old brother and mother, 30, were also critically injured in the crash, which snarled airport traffic for hours.

The woman who sued over her son’s death in Jefferson County said in the lawsuit that her son called her during the chase and begged for help, saying the driver would not let passengers out. The call came too late and her son died while on the phone with her. The pursuit originated when police stopped the driver for speeding and he fled.

Regional authorities need to set strict parameters for police pursuits of fleeing vehicles and when chases are permissible outside their jurisdictions. Nobody wants teens joyriding in stolen vehicles or armed criminals circulating on the roads, but the pursuit must be worth the risk and danger. Otherwise, wait to catch them another time.

 

ORIGINAL POST: http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/the-platform/editorial-don-t-put-innocent-lives-in-danger-with-high/article_cdfdc65e-5548-5ec5-989e-6fa8cb734fdf.html

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