All posts tagged: #ThereAreOtherOptions

WHDH TV 7NEWS Boston – Jon and Katelyn in the news

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An excellent story by Investigative Reporter Samantha Kummerer. Special thanks to Kate for agreeing to be interviewed.

Link to the video at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot

7 Investigates: Police Chases


SOMERVILLE, MASS. (WHDH) – A call at 4 a.m. changed Jonathan Farris’ life.

“It was an emergency room hospital doctor who told us that Paul had been killed in a car accident,” Farris said recalling that fatal night in May 2007.

His 23-year-old son was minutes away from his Somerville destination when a black SUV crashed into his taxi. The crash killed Paul and the taxi driver.

“By far the worst thing that could possibly happen to a parent,” Farris said.

Paul was a musician and had just graduated from Tufts University. His girlfriend Katelyn Hoyt was also in the cab and was seriously injured.

“I had a shattered pelvis, broken sternum, broken ribs, broken wrist and a traumatic brain injury,” Hoyt recalled.

She had to relearn to walk and had to slowly gain her memories back.

“I didn’t remember who he was and then I did and then all these memories flooded back; terrible and awesome and a lot of depression. A lot of sadness but a lot of happiness too to have known him and to love him,” Hoyt said remembering Paul.

SEE THE VIDEO AND READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

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Washington State – A Decision That Will Kill and Injure Innocent Citizens

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More bad decisions…


Heywood testifies and tense exchanges at hearing on police pursuit initiative

BY: JERRY CORNFIELD

FEBRUARY 28, 2024

Only eight people spoke in the one-hour hearing as Democrats pushed back on supporters’ claims that Initiative 2113 will increase public safety and reduce crime.

 

State lawmakers embarked Wednesday to give police in Washington more leeway to pursue suspected criminals knowing that if they don’t act in the next few days, voters very likely will in November.

A citizen initiative bound for the fall ballot would erase restrictions on when police can engage in vehicle pursuits. Law enforcement groups have said the constraints emboldened criminals and contributed to an increase in crime.

But lawmakers could make the changes themselves by enacting Initiative 2113 before the session ends March 7. They took the first step Wednesday with a hearing in which supporters and opponents disagreed on whether the measure would enhance public safety or put more people at risk.  READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

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San Francisco Chronicle’s AMAZINGLY DETAILED Police Pursuit Series and Expose

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In February of 2024, after more than a year of exhaustive research and data mining, San Francisco Chronicle staff Jennifer Gollan and Susie Neilson‘s police pursuit investigative series was published.

This is by far the most comprehensive national police pursuit series completed since the 2015 USA Today stories.

Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate for Pursuit For Change, is honored to have had the opportunity to support Jennifer and the SF Chronicle team with their reporting.

We highly encourage you to read the complete articles at the San Francisco Chronicle’s website.

“The federal government is significantly undercounting chase deaths. Reporters discovered 662 people who died from 2017 through 2021 but were missing from fatal pursuit data published by NHTSA.”

 

To report “Fast and Fatal,” Chronicle reporters spent a year identifying and examining fatal chases, finding that at least 3,336 people died in pursuits in the U.S. over the six years ending in 2022. They discovered that police pursuits frequently go wrong, killing an average of nearly two people a day in recent years.

Bystanders and passengers are killed with shocking frequency, and the vast majority of chases involve drivers suspected not of violent crimes, but low-level violations.

The investigation, relying on thousands of pages of documents and more than 100 body-worn and dash-camera videos, identified numerous failings that contributed to the carnage. Crucially, there’s no binding national standard governing whether and how police should chase suspects, so officers operate under often permissive rules that vary by department. When people needlessly die or are injured, police officers are rarely held accountable.

Here are five main takeaways from the Chronicle’s investigation:

Despite pledges by law enforcement and lawmakers to reduce deaths and injuries from high-speed pursuits, fatalities have soared. Both 2020 and 2021 became the deadliest on record, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The federal government is significantly undercounting the dead. From 2017 through 2021, NHTSA did not include 662 pursuit deaths identified by the Chronicle in its publicly available chase fatality data, including dozens of cases in which officers deliberately rammed cars while chasing them. Our data shows that nearly 700 people died in 2020 and again in 2021, with more than 500 deaths annually from 2017 through 2019.

Officers routinely start deadly chases that begin with a low-level crime — or no crime at all. Innocent people routinely become collateral damage. The Chronicle examined the circumstances that led police to initiate chases that killed nearly 1,900 people and found that more than 1,550 of them died over traffic infractions, nonviolent crimes or no crime at all. Suspects most often fled for relatively mundane reasons: Their license had been suspended, they were on probation, or they said they feared the police. At least 551 people killed in pursuits from 2017 through 2022 were bystanders, reporters found.

Officers are rarely held accountable, and families struggle to find justice. Even when police officers violate department policy or behave recklessly during fatal pursuits, they typically avoid criminal charges and internal discipline. Under California law, families are limited in their ability to sue police departments involved in fatal chases even if they can prove the pursuing officer violated department policy.

Black people are four times as likely as white people to be killed in police pursuits. As with police shootings and other uses of force, chases disproportionately kill Black Americans. This holds true whether the person is a suspect, a passenger in a fleeing vehicle or a bystander.   READ MORE


Police chases, glamorized in action films, aired in real time by news helicopters and gamified by “Grand Theft Auto,” have long stirred the American imagination. But pursuits like the one that killed the Nievas siblings now claim nearly two lives a day across the country, and public officials are failing at nearly every level to confront the growing problem, a yearlong Chronicle investigation found.

Operating under often permissive rules that vary by department, and with immunity from serious punishment in most cases, officers routinely launch chases that begin with a low-level crime — or no crime whatsoever — and end with a violent wreck. At least 551 bystanders died in chases over six years, the Chronicle found.

The vast collateral damage has spurred a decades-long push for reform, with law enforcement leaders, regulators and politicians repeatedly promising to reduce the carnage caused by high-speed police pursuits. Yet little has changed — except for the mounting death toll. The federal government, meanwhile, does not even track all the deaths.

The Chronicle spent months doing just that, building a database of fatal pursuits from 2017 through 2022 by filing more than 70 public records requests and examining information from research organizations, local news stories and court records.

Reporters merged this data with records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find that at least 3,336 people were killed as a result of police pursuits throughout the U.S. from 2017 through 2022. At least 15 of them were officers. More than 52,600 people were injured from 2017 through 2021, according to government estimates.

“These are completely avoidable deaths,” said Christy Lopez, a Georgetown law professor and former deputy chief in the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. “Police are killing too many people in pursuits for reasons that are entirely unnecessary and it’s ruining lives. Police never have the right to be the judge and executioner.”  READ MORE


 

The federal agency charged with keeping drivers safe is significantly undercounting the number of people killed in police pursuits, skewing the picture of one of the most dangerous law enforcement activities in America.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is widely viewed as the authoritative source for statistics on pursuit-related fatalities. NHTSA’s data is routinely cited in reports by other federal agencies, researchers, media outlets and organizations that make policy recommendations and guide local police departments on when they should initiate chases.

But NHTSA did not record at least 662 people killed in pursuits from 2017 through 2021 in its publicly released count, the Chronicle found in an investigation.

The Chronicle’s analysis sought to include every person killed as a result of a police chase. NHTSA uses a narrower definition, saying it omits cases in which an officer purposely rams a vehicle or, in certain instances, calls off a chase before a crash, among other exclusions. The newspaper, though, also found hundreds of deaths that were missing from the agency’s pursuit data due to gaps in reporting and other unknown reasons.

With additional deaths identified by the Chronicle, the number of people killed in police pursuits is nearly 30% higher than previously known — a total of at least 3,004 individuals over five years. The dead include fleeing drivers, their passengers, bystanders and police officers.

In a statement, NHTSA (commonly pronounced NITS-uh) said its data on fatal police pursuits was not meant to be comprehensive.  READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

 


First-of-its-kind database: Majority of people killed in police chases aren’t the fleeing drivers

An analysis of police pursuit fatality data shows that most of those killed between 2017 and 2022 were passengers or bystanders.

Car chases are one of the most dangerous activities in American policing. But for decades, the federal government has not tracked all deaths tied to pursuits. So the San Francisco Chronicle counted them.

The results are staggering. In our investigation, Fast and Fatal,” which includes the fullest accounting yet of police pursuit deaths, we found that at least 3,336 people were killed in police vehicle pursuits from 2017 through 2022. At least 1,377 people died in 2020 and 2021, the most recent years for which federal data was available — almost two people a day on average.

The Chronicle built a dataset of these deaths using information from three primary sources: the federal government, private research organizations and our own reporting. The resulting figures are still likely undercounts, as not every chase is the subject of a news story or a lawsuit, two sources the Chronicle used to find cases missing from government records.

Reporters spent a year examining a subset of over 2,000 deaths that included additional details about the causes and circumstances of each chase and the people involved. We found that at least 551 people, or more than 25% of those killed, were bystanders. In addition, the vast majority of these pursuits were initiated over traffic violations and nonviolent crimes such as shoplifting, not serious felonies.

Selected statistics are presented here as well as guidance on how to access the Chronicle’s dataset to look for specific cases.

Where police chases killed people

From 2017 through 2022, at least 3,336 people died in police chases.  READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

To build the Chronicle’s national dataset of at least 3,336 people killed in police vehicle pursuits from 2017 through 2022, we used information from three primary sources: the federal government, private research organizations and our reporting.

While no government agency counts every police pursuit death, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration comes closest. We used data published by NHTSA via its Fatality Analysis Reporting system (FARS) to produce a list of people killed in police pursuits recorded by the federal agency. Specifically, we drew from the FARS global person, vehicle and accident files, as well as its auxiliary accident file.

In a separate database, we gathered and analyzed information about pursuit deaths from research organizations Mapping Police ViolenceFatal Encounters and IncarcerNation.com, manually reviewing each row entered by researchers to ensure accuracy. READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE


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City report shows 1 in 5 Milwaukee police chases result in crashes

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A recently released Milwaukee police pursuit study sheds light on some alarming trends in chases.

By Ben Jordan, TMJ4 News

Pleased to have worked with Ben on this story…

City report shows 1 in 5 Milwaukee police chases result in crashes

MILWAUKEE — A recently released Milwaukee police pursuit study sheds light on some alarming trends in chases.

The comprehensive analysis breaks down when and why police pursuits often begin and end. The top thing that sticks out to some of those who have suffered the consequences is how often chases result in crashes.

It’s a polarizing issue in Milwaukee: Whether or not police should chase reckless or mobile drug traffickers.

Those two categories account for about 70 percent of Milwaukee chases. They’ve caused pursuit numbers to skyrocket ever since the Fire and Police Commission forced the policy shift in 2017.

In each of the last three years, M.P.D. has chased more than 1,000 drivers annually.

“My biggest issue with the policy is it’s impossible to police that,” Jonathan Farris said. “What is reckless? Reckless is a legal term, but it’s also a term that you and I have to decide what’s reckless.”

Farris lost his son in a police pursuit more than a decade ago. He was an innocent victim in the back of a taxi.

“Losing a child is just impossible to explain,” he said. “It’s a pain that doesn’t go away.”

Farris has become one of the biggest advocates in the country, calling o law enforcement agencies like M.P.D. to only pursue when there’s an imminent threat of danger such as a violent felony.

“It’s changed my life and it’s gotten me into what can I do to save other people from having to live through this situation,” he said.

READ/WATCH the rest of the story at TMJ4 Milwaukee

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BAD OUTCOMES 2: Monona continues down a dangerous path

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A few weeks ago we wrote about some truly poor decisions made by the Monona City Council (MCC) and the Monona Police Department (MOPD). You can read that article here:  BAD OUTCOMES: Monona’s Poor Decision to Weaken Police Pursuit Policy in 2022 Results in Unnecessary Deaths

We sincerely hoped, after the still-unexplained pursuit that killed three people, Monona would come to its senses and permanently revert to their previous pursuit policy limiting when officers can pursue (e.g. not for misdemeanors or non violent-felony actions).

Sadly, we should have known better…

The taxi in which Paul Farris (PFC Chief Advocate’s son) and Walid Chahine were killed and Katelyn Hoyt was grievously injured. May 27, 2007. Somerville, MA

Monona logged 249 pursuits from 2019 through 2023.

The sheriff’s office, which patrols areas not covered by municipal police departments, participated in the next most, or 213. Madison saw 112 during that same period. Madison.com

So where is MOPD now. Let’s see.

First was the Chief’s interview very soon after the deadly pursuit. His January 5th “statement” is a lesson in dredging for any possible reason to “justify” a weak policy. This is IDENTICAL to statements made by virtually every other agency with equally weak and mismanaged pursuit policies. You can read that @WKOW story here:  ‘The officer was acting lawfully’: Monona Police chief speaks out following fatal pursuit.

Second, as predicted, on January 17th the MOPD announced their decision to reinstate the “open” pursuit policy and let officers pretty much chase for any reason (e.g. just say “reckless” and then it’s OK).  I mean, the DCI hasn’t even finished their investigation of the January 3rd pursuit and deaths, yet MOPD wants to start chasing even more – again???  Yet another BAD DECISION.

In this Madison.com article, Monona moves to reinstate police pursuit policy after fatal New Year’s Day crash, the Chief was quoted:

“He said the decision not to pursue a suspect could result in more danger to the public than if police do try to pull over a vehicle, such as when a driver appears extremely intoxicated. “Reckless driving, drunk driving, drugged driving, dangerous driving kills every day,” he said. “In this country it has taken so many lives.””

So let’s think about this.

If an officer believes a suspect is truly drunk, drugged or impaired in any other manner, why in world would a city allow that officer to CHASE them – at even higher, more dangerous speeds.

That driver is IMPAIRED. Chasing them does not make them less impaired – rather it creates a situation where the likelihood of that impairment causing great bodily harm to others is increased exponentially.  

We should not lay all the blame for poor decisions on the new Chief.  The Monona City Council, and perhaps Alderman Patrick DePula specifically, carry the greatest culpability in allowing such a policy to be reinstated.

The Council will be back in the news, very likely in 2024, when more INNOCENT CITIZENS are killed or maimed in an unnecessary misdemeanor violation police chase. I suspect the city’s insurer may be interested in the history of MOPD’s policies, because the likelihood of a justified, multi-million dollar lawsuit, is imminent under current policies.

Oh, MOPD, did you know that there are technology and driver training tools available designed to PREVENT UNNECESSARY PURSUITS?  Yes, there are.

It breaks my heart that others will also need live with the knowledge that a poorly thought out decision and a misguided pursuit policy took the life of someone they love. I hope it’s not a member of your family or a close friend…

 

And finally.

Just in case you think we’re the only ones who think that MOPD’s pursuit policy is bad, we’re not.  Read the excellent 1/21/2024 WSJ opinion. [Wisconsin State Journal] OUR VIEW: Monona should rethink, tighten policy on police pursuits in wake of triple-fatal crash

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RECKLESS PURSUITS – Kansas City Star 2024 Series

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I’ve had the honor of working with reporter Katie Moore at the Kansas City Star over the past several months. She and Glenn Rice have published the first in a series of eight, relating to out of control police chases in the Kansas City metro area.  This particular article is truly EXCELLENT.  Great detail, heartfelt, and really well written.

I always appreciate the opportunity to support the media and I’m glad to have been involved here.

Jonathan Farris – Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change


Image KC Star

Police chases in KC metro kill bystanders. One department chases more than any other

 

BY KATIE MOORE AND GLENN E. RICE
UPDATED JANUARY 19, 2024 12:13 PM

 

When Jake Monteer was 12, his father let him take his motorcycle for a spin near their home on Spruce Street in Bates City.

Jake climbed on, confident that he could keep it upright. And he was off. In some ways, he never looked back.

Growing up in the small town just east of Kansas City, Jake’s passion for motorcycles only grew. As an adult, he learned how to fix bikes and rode from daylight to dark.

“I think he just liked feeling free,” his father, David Monteer, said.

Jake Monteer was 41 years old last March, when he and a friend hopped on his motorcycle with a pizza to share. They were driving in Independence when a Jeep, fleeing police in a high-speed chase, hit them.

They both died.

“It feels like part of your heart is ripped out,” David Monteer said during an interview with The Star.

As weeks and months passed, he and his wife Terri Monteer learned more about the circumstances of their son’s death. They found out that police were chasing the Jeep because it was stolen and not for a more serious crime. That one of the officers in the chase had been involved in a previous pursuit that left four people dead. And that it was when police laid down stop sticks in front of the Jeep that it lost control and hit their son’s motorcycle.

“Since when is a stolen vehicle worth somebody’s life?” David Monteer said. “That’s my question.” It’s a question other families have asked after previous high-speed pursuits by Independence police that seem to repeat the same pattern again and again.

Read the rest of the story at the Kansas City Star website – HERE

A few stats from their research – also posted in the KC Star article.  Disturbing to say the least:

Police Chase Findings Reporters interviewed local police leaders, national law enforcement experts, academics who study chases and advocates for safer policing. The results of their reporting are being published in an eight-part series.

  • In 2022, more than 1,200 police chases took place in the Kansas City metro, resulting in over 150 crashes and 51 injuries. Independence accounted for 33% of those injuries.
  • The Independence Police Department initiated 330 chases in 2022. Kansas City, which is four times larger in population but has a more restrictive policy governing police chases, recorded 98.
  • Over the past six years, eight people have died in chases involving Independence officers. Six were innocent bystanders, one was a passenger in a fleeing car and one was a fleeing driver.
  • According to a report by the Police Executive Research Forum, 70% of police departments placed narrow restrictions on when a chase is warranted. In the Kansas City metro, the rate is about 56%.
  • Where data was available, 17% of the chases violated department policy.

 

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BAD OUTCOMES: Monona’s Poor Decision to Weaken Police Pursuit Policy in 2022 Results in Unnecessary Deaths

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by Jon Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

BAD OUTCOMES: Monona’s Poor Decision to Weaken Police Pursuit Policy in 2022 Results in Unnecessary Deaths

During the past several weeks, police chases in Monona have taken an even more horrible and deadly turn. READ MORE HERE

But this should not be unexpected.

“In November 2022, the Monona City Council approved a change to the policy governing when police can engage in vehicle pursuits, removing the requirement that the people being pursued must be suspected of having committed a violent felony or that they were about to commit one.” The new policy included a dozen factors for officers to consider when deciding whether to pursue a fleeing vehicle, including “whether the suspect represents a serious threat to public safety,” “the safety of the public in the area of the pursuit” and whether the person fleeing has been identified and could be safely arrested later. That expanded a previous policy, adopted in 2020, in which the City Council changed the requirement that police have “reasonable suspicion” that a violent felony had been committed to instead permit pursuits if police had “probable cause” that such a crime had occurred.” READ MORE HERE

This decision, as anyone with even an ounce of common sense would know, has resulted in more pursuits, crashes, injuries and deaths. READ MORE HERE

And let’s talk very briefly about leadership. Brian Chaney has been Monona’s police chief for only a short while, and he came from the Madison PD, which maintains a safe pursuit policy. However Chief Chaney’s recent comment mimics the bluster made by Milwaukee’s Chief in 2018, after they opened up virtually unlimited pursuits.
We don’t play,’ Monona police chief warns criminals after two chases.

This is not what leadership is about. What message does this send to his officers? And it definitely provides NO VALUE in reducing crime. Criminals do not open the newspaper to see what the Chief is saying, nor do they care even if they do hear it or read it online. Get real folks.

However, off the cuff comments like this can embolden Monona police officers to make poor decisions, likely not made under prior leadership or when following stricter engagement and pursuit policies.

If all of this seems like déjà vu, it should, because Monona is heading in the same direction as the Milwaukee Police Department.

BAD DECISIONS. BAD OUTCOMES. PEOPLE DYING.

In 2017, the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission FORCED the Chief to loosen what was one of the better police pursuit policies in the United States. And every moment since then has resulted in horrible outcomes, including deaths of innocent citizens and police officers.

THIS IS WHERE MONONA IS HEADING. MOPD AND THE MONONA CITY COUNCIL NEED TO TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND REASSESS THEIR CURRENT, WEAK PURSUIT POLICY THAT EXPOSES CITIZENS AND OFFICERS TO UNNECESSARY INJURIES AND DEATH.

Milwaukee Police chases have skyrocketed in the last five years. READ STORY HERE

Here’s an article we wrote, showing results from Milwaukee’s pursuit police change. And as in virtually every city, when policies are weakened, more citizens die…

Opinion: Milwaukee Gambles with Citizen and Officer Lives. December 10, 2018
On Thursday, December 6, the Milwaukee Police Department announced that carjackings were down and @Fox6Now Milwaukee  reported that “police credit change in pursuit policy for dramatic decrease in carjackings.” This is a story about the City of Milwaukee and their quest to reduce joyriding and stolen vehicles. It is an honorable mission, but they are using a very deadly battle plan … Continue reading

 

So what do truly experienced and more rational law enforcement professionals have to say about police chases? NHTSA and the Department of Justice’s COPS Office asked the Police Executives Research Forum (PERF) to develop vehicular pursuit guidelines for police departments and sheriffs’ offices. They will tell you that Monona is doing it wrong…

PERF REPORT SUMMARY:

The report contains 65 recommendations across six topics:
   – agency philosophy and policy standards;
   – the role of a supervisor;
   – pursuit interventions, pursuit alternatives, and technology for managing risks;
   – post-pursuit reporting;
   – training; and
   – community engagement.

They recommend that agencies only pursue suspects when two conditions are met: (1) a violent crime has been committed and (2) the suspect poses an imminent threat to commit another violent crime.  Links to everything about the PERF Report is in an earlier published article HERE.

Chief Chaney and the Monona City Council need to strongly reassess the current pursuit policy. If they continue with no changes, Monona residents can expect to see MORE DEATHS, MORE INJURIES, LAWSUITS WITH MILLION-DOLLAR JUDGEMENTS AGAINST THE CITY, MORE EXPENSIVE INSURANCE PREMIUMS FOR THE CITY and more…

I told the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission this exact same message in 2017, but they didn’t listen. And in 2018 a police officer was killed, several innocent citizens were killed, and the lawsuits commenced.  All of these outcomes and problems continue unabated in 2024.

I truly hope Monona makes the smart decision…

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2023. Seventeen Birthdays

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November 2, 2023
17 Birthdays

Here we go again. Another year, another birthday.  Had Paul lived he’d be celebrating his 40th birthday today.  Today is the 17th missed birthday since his death as an innocent in a #PoliceChase.

This year he’d have so many thoughts on what’s happening around the world. In 2006 Paul traveled with a group of students to visit Israel. He was introduced to their history, their sights, their people and so much more. It was a wonderful experience. 

   

So I wonder about Paul’s reactions to today’s events
  • to the heinous Hamas extremist attacks on and killings of innocent Israelis
  • to Israel’s actions to find and exterminate extremist Hamas members
  • to the deaths of the innocent, non-combatant Palestinians
  • to the deaths, absolute horrors and atrocities in Ukraine
  • to the hate – seemingly spewing everywhere – across our country and across this troubled world  
For sure he’d be appalled and incredibly sad. And perhaps he’d be engaged in meaningful efforts to enact positive changes.  I’d like to think so.
Pray for the killing to stop and dream for the miracle of peace. 
I miss you Paul – today on your birthday, and every other day – forever.
         – Jonathan Farris, Dad and Chief Advocate of Pursuit For Change
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Sometimes Screams Are Heard

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Sometimes screams aren’t heard.

I suspect that was the case when I received a call at 4:00 AM telling me my son Paul had been killed in a car crash. That was on May 27, 2007, a lifetime ago.

And when, shortly later, I learned that his death was caused because of a totally unnecessary, minor traffic violation police pursuit, my screams increased.

And so came my entrance into the advocacy to change mindsets regarding the necessity of police pursuits for anything other than for violent felonies. I’ve been “screaming” ever since.

Well, sometimes your screams are heard. And sometimes those who hear DO want to help.

Below are links to a recently completed study and comprehensive review of police pursuits. This project was supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number 2020-CK-WX-K035 awarded to the Police Executive Research Forum by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The publication is distributed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the interest of information exchange

So what will become of this report and these excellent recommendations?  I don’t know, but I’ll keep screaming until legislators and law enforcement hears that chasing until the wheels fall off is both stupid and danger, and changes are necessary.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate
Pursuit For Change

@chester_jonah @jennifergollan @andreeball @katie_reports #PursuitForChange @PursuitResponse @StarChaseLLC #PursuitReductionTech @FAACsimulators @PursuitAlert @SpartanTekOrg @OnStar @benjordan3


September 23, 2023

Police pursuit policies should be more restrictive to save lives

By Chuck Wexler, Executive Director, PERF
COMPLETE LETTER IS HERE:
https://www.policeforum.org/trending23sep23

PERF members,

Vehicle pursuits are part of what distinguishes the police from any other occupation. Hollywood has recognized this and featured pursuits in many films. Growing up, I remember watching Gene Hackman commandeer a citizen’s car and take it on a harrowing chase as an NYPD detective in “The French Connection.” But, as you all know, the reality of police pursuits is anything but glamorous.

Earlier this week you received PERF’s new report on pursuits. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatal crashes involving police pursuits kill more than one person every day; 525 people were killed in 2021, and 545 were killed in 2020. According to Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) data from 2009 to 2013, 21 percent of those seriously injured in police pursuits are individuals not involved in the pursuit….

 

…The report contains 65 recommendations across six topics: agency philosophy and policy standards; the role of a supervisor; pursuit interventions, pursuit alternatives, and technology for managing risks; post-pursuit reporting; training; and community engagement. We recommend that agencies only pursue suspects when two conditions are met: (1) a violent crime has been committed and (2) the suspect poses an imminent threat to commit another violent crime. 

The rest of the story:  https://www.policeforum.org/trending23sep23

The Complete Report:  https://portal.cops.usdoj.gov/resourcecenter/content.ashx/cops-r1134-pub.pdf

 

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Milwaukee Police Department’s in the News – and not in a good way.

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And the beat goes on…

Police chases in Milwaukee surge in recent years

I truly appreciate Jonah’s comments in this email:

On Aug 2, 2023, at 6:20 AM, Jonah wrote:
Hi Jonathan,
As promised, here’s a link to the story: 
Thank you again for agreeing to chat with me for the story, your expertise and perspective was extremely valuable.
And a HUGE thank you for alerting me to the flaws in police pursuit reporting data. After our conversation, I began taking a closer look at the injury reports I’d received through my record requests and noticed several missing deadly pursuits. I reached out to the MPD for comment on those, and it turns out they initially gave me a bad batch of data which under-reported third party deaths and injuries and over-reported police injuries. They issued updated and corrected numbers just a few hours before we were set to publish. I probably wouldn’t have caught those flaws if it weren’t for your comments on faulty data.
-Jonah
@chester_jonah @jennifergollan @andreeball @katie_reports #PursuitForChange @PursuitResponse @StarChaseLLC #PursuitReductionTech @FAACsimulators @PursuitAlert @SpartanTekOrg @OnStar

Hot pursuit: Milwaukee police chases now top 1,000 per year. Some prove deadly.

Milwaukee sees a surge in police pursuits in years since loosening policy to target reckless drivers. Critics say the trend makes streets more dangerous.
Reading Time: 10 minutesNews414 is a service journalism collaboration between Wisconsin Watch and Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service that addresses the specific issues, interests, perspectives and information needs identified by residents of central city Milwaukee neighborhoods. Learn more at our website or sign up for our texting service her

  • Correction: A previous version of this story included an incorrect figure for the number of fatal Milwaukee police pursuits in 2023 and incorrect percentages of pursuits ending in injuries from 2007 to 2022.

At 1:06 a.m. on Aug. 1, 2019, Le’Quon McCoy was driving through a North Side Milwaukee intersection when the driver of a stolen Buick Encore ran a flashing red light and crashed into McCoy’s Jeep Renegade.

The speeding driver, who was fleeing police, hit McCoy’s Jeep so hard that it bounced off a tree on one side of the road and into a parked car on the other side. McCoy, 19, died at the scene.

“He got off work around like 9 or 10 at night. He stopped here to see me,” his mother, Antoinette Broomfield recalled.   READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

adminMilwaukee Police Department’s in the News – and not in a good way.
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Sixteen Years. May 27, 2023

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16 Years

by Jon Farris

16 YEARS.  192 MONTHS.  5,843 DAYS.  140,253 HOURS.  8,415,187 MINUTES.  504,911,220 SECONDS

It simply doesn’t matter how you measure it.

May 27, 2023 is the 16th anniversary of Paul Farrisand Walid Chahine’s deaths, and my heart has never been the same.

They were killed by a man fleeing police (#PoliceChase) – running through the dark and densely packed streets of Somerville, MA. The fleeing man was driving at 75 miles per hour, pursued by a State Trooper, when he broadsided the taxi driven by Walid and in which Paul and Katelyn were passengers. Paul was thrown from the taxi and died immediately. Walid was grievously injured and passed a week later. Kate survived, hospitalized for months, with doctors saying it was a miracle she lived.

Fast forward to April, 2023. The man who stole Paul and Walid’s lives walked away from prison, free but on parole for the next 15 years.  I hope, with all of my heart, that he doesn’t drive again and doesn’t endanger your sons, daughters, moms, dads, best friends or others…

 

We miss you, Paul.

Dad


Random thoughts…

Music was a huge part of Paul’s life, as it is for me.  I dream that Paul is still playing and singing his music – in a better place.

                                     Paul Farris singing – circa 2005

I think if Paul was still here that he’d be horrified by the death and destruction in Ukraine. Here’s a song by his college band, theMark.

theMark “Faith in Flight”. LISTEN HERE

I’m so tired
Of guns on my mind
Lives fall away
When shells and tempers fly.

And if I should die
When stars and stripes collide
And every soldier loses faith in flight.

Stay home next time
And keep your shoes tied.


Many different songs remind me of Paul. And many bring tears even after so long. Two are linked here.

Riverside “Towards the Blue Horizon”

Where are you now my friend?
I miss those days
I hope they take good care of you there
And you can still play the guitar
And sing your songs
I just miss those days
And miss you so
Wish I could be strong
When darkness comes

Soen “River”

All these words that I left unspoken
I will say when I meet you again.
I see you but I can’t feel your presence
I feel you but you’re fading away.

adminSixteen Years. May 27, 2023
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Are YOU Ready To Help Save Lives?

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December 1, 2022:  Jon Farris, Chief Advocate of Pursuit For Change, writes about a technology crowdfunding pledge opportunity. Please take a moment to learn about an opportunity that will most certainly lead to fewer policy-pursuit related injuries and deaths.

 

Dear friends,

During the past 15+ years, since the death of my son Paul, I have advocated for stricter policies and smarter laws surrounding police pursuits. Additionally, I have supported companies that have developed pursuit reduction and safety technology tools to reduce chases and help save innocent lives.

Today I’d like to introduce you to one of those companies, PursuitAlert.

Tim Morgan is a cofounder and CEO of Pursuit Alert. Tim has spent nearly forty years working with and for law enforcement, serving twenty-two as a Pickens County SC Assistant Sheriff. I have known Tim since 2016 and I know how committed he is to saving lives.

The PursuitAlert Digital Siren is a patented warning system that allows law enforcement to send real-time, critical messaging to your smartphone when you are near any emergency response including dangerous police pursuits.

WHY am I reaching out today? The PursuitAlert team needs support to expand their system and network. They have recently developed relationships with Waze Maps, Apple Maps, Stelantis passenger vehicles (Chrysler, Jeep) and have just signed an NDA for discussions with Amazon. And even more vehicles and smartphone apps will be added in the near future.

So I’m asking you to consider an investment PLEDGE. This website (https://pursuitalertdigitalsiren.sppx.io/) provides an overview of what the PursuitAlert team is proposing and has planned for the company going forward. This is a “Testing the Waters” pledge. The choice is yours, but I do hope you’ll seriously consider signing up to support PursuitAlert.

Thanks,

Jon

 

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16 Missed Birthdays

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16 Missed Birthdays

By Jon Farris – Paul Farris’ dad and Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

 

Every year on November 2nd I post a note in remembrance of my son, Paul, about the birthday celebrations we’ve missed since his senseless death. This will be the 16th one.

It’s easy for me to remember Paul and the many happy birthdays we spent with family and friends. Some days it seems as though these were only yesterday, but no…

We miss you buddy. So very much.

 

Whenever I need a dose of inner peace, I listen to Paul’s music. You can hear all of Paul’s music at PaulFarris.org/Music.
And here’s Faith in Flight, from theMark‘s album The Catastrophist, with Alec O. playing guitar: https://paulfarris.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/04-Faith-in-Flight.mp3

Paul & Alec. theMark. Tuft’s Spring Fling 2004

 

Paul Farris birthday 1993

Paul 2004

Paul 2003

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Man Arrested for Police Pursuit after $20 Walmart Theft

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There is simply NO REASON for law enforcement to be elevating a Walmart theft into a DANGEROUS POLICE PURSUIT the endangers so many innocent citizens.  

Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved with this situation. Thankfully and luckily, no bystanders were injured or killed. Law enforcement agencies must create smarter and stricter pursuit policies so this just does not happen.

 


41-Year-Old Arrested for High-Speed Chase after 20 Dollar Walmart Theft

 

A high-speed chase occurred after a theft at Walmart around 2 pm on Monday.

According to early reports a call from Walmart to a person who had stolen several items including a hat, deodorant, and other small items with the possibility of leaving the store. Associates attempted to stop the suspect but he pushed through running out of the store.

He got into a White Sonata that was waiting for him and left the parking lot that’s when the sheriff’s department attempted to stop the vehicle in front of Taco Bell on US-23 but instead of stopping he put his foot on the gas.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

 

 

 

adminMan Arrested for Police Pursuit after $20 Walmart Theft
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Dangerous rush-hour police crash raises concerns (Fox31 Colorado)

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Dangerous rush-hour police crash raises concerns

 

by: 
Posted: Updated: 

DENVER (KDVR) — Questions have arisen about the Denver Police Department’s pursuit policy after officers chased and stopped a car on Interstate 225, causing a high-speed crash in rush hour traffic.

The suspect had been involved in a Denver shooting hours earlier at the Bass Pro Shops on Northfield Boulevard.

Dominique Hall and her family were stuck in traffic when the crash happened next to them near I-225 and Colfax Avenue.

“All of a sudden out of nowhere, we hear tires screeching and a loud bang. Then, we see the car go past us all. Shrapnel from both cars the police SUV and the suspect’s car was just everywhere,” said Hall, of Aurora.

See the video and read the rest of the story HERE.

adminDangerous rush-hour police crash raises concerns (Fox31 Colorado)
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Pursuit policy questioned after deaths in I-25 crash

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“Jonathan Farris, an advocate for the nonprofit Pursuit for Change, an organization that pushes for safer police pursuit policies, called the Santa Fe Police Department’s chase policy vague and said it doesn’t give much direction for when an officer should give up on a pursuit.”

Pursuit policy questioned after deaths in I-25 crash

By Sean P. Thomas sthomas@sfnewmexican.com Mar 19, 2022 Updated Mar 20, 2022

Jeannine Jaramillo’s alleged crimes in Santa Fe and Cibola counties within months of each other are strikingly similar: stolen cars, reckless chases and claims of a kidnapper or male aggressor who doesn’t appear to exist.

The outcomes widely differ.

When Jaramillo was suspected of leading Cibola County deputies into oncoming traffic at high speeds in September 2021, they called off the pursuit. They later found the stolen vehicle at a residence and took Jaramillo into custody, according to records of the case.

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE

 


FBI tactical squad members approach a command center March 2 on Interstate 25 near Old Pecos Trail after a Santa Fe police officer and another motorist, a retired firefighter, were killed in a multiple-car crash during a police pursuit.   Jim Weber/New Mexican file photo

UPDATE:

We have asked Mr. Thomas to post one correction. This statement “Farris, whose son Paul Farris was killed in 2007 when a cab he was riding in was struck by a Massachusetts state trooper chasing a driver suspected of a traffic violation…” is incorrect.  In actuality, the cab Paul was riding in was struck by the fleeing driver’s SUV, and not by the Trooper.  An important clarification.

adminPursuit policy questioned after deaths in I-25 crash
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Cost of the chase: An examination of police pursuits

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An excellent article focusing on pursuits, law enforcement’s actions, and the death of yet another innocent victim.

Cost of the chase: An examination of police pursuits

by: Jeff Keeling, Ashley Sharp

Posted: Feb 23, 2022 / 04:32 PM EST
Updated: Feb 23, 2022 / 04:37 PM EST

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Just after midnight Dec. 4, a 22-mile police pursuit from Tusculum to Johnson City, Tenn. ended in the death of A Pearson, a completely uninvolved motorist.

A car driven by Christian Morrow and pursued by a Tusculum Police Department (TPD) officer and the TPD chief after Morrow passed the officer at 104 miles per hour lost control and crashed into Pearson’s car. Pearson died at the scene, while Morrow is in jail on other charges as an investigation into the accident that caused Pearson’s death continues.

READ MORE HERE

adminCost of the chase: An examination of police pursuits
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Trooper was traveling 100+ mph before slamming into car

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November 08, 2021 at 11:07 pm EST
By Ted Daniel, Boston 25 News
@tvnewzted @Boston25

Note from PFC: At 101 miles per hour the Trooper’s SUV was traveling more than 148 feet per second and can cover a half mile in just 20 seconds.  Innocent victim Sarah Stevens should never have been put in this situation.

25 Investigates: Trooper was traveling 100+ mph before slamming into car, critically injuring nurse

The trooper was racing to join a pursuit several towns away, MSP documents show

LEOMINSTER, Mass. — She was on her commute back home to Fitchburg that January night last year when Sarah Stevens says her life was changed.

The 30-year-old emergency room nurse stopped at the Wendy’s on N. Main Street in Leominster following a 12-hour shift at Lowell General and was exiting the parking lot when, she says, the sudden and violent impact happened. An unmarked state police cruiser slammed into the driver’s side of her Ford Focus.

Sarah Stevens (photos from Boston25 News)

The January 29, 2020 crash totaled her car and shattered her body.

“I know that I was in the coma for about a week. I fractured my shoulder, had eight broken ribs, a lacerated liver, a bleeding kidney,” recalled Stevens. “I had brain bleeds, a dissected carotid artery. They also had to go in and put a coil in my kidney to stop the bleeding.”

See the video and read the rest of the story HERE.

 

 

adminTrooper was traveling 100+ mph before slamming into car
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Atlanta City Council To Consider Pursuit Policy Changes

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So so many heartbreaking stories.

City Council committee to consider police pursuit changes

HAYLEY MASON
UPDATED 14 HRS AGO | POSTED ON JUN 28, 2021

ATLANTA (CBS46) — Joi and Doug Partridge will never forget the day they lost their two children Cameron and Layla, and Joi’s mother, Dorothy Wright. Wright was driving her grandchildren to church when she was hit by the driver of a stolen car fleeing from police in 2016 in Southwest Atlanta.

“It really hurts because I lost my parent and my two kids,” Joi Partridge told CBS46’s Hayley Mason.

Read the rest of the story here: https://www.cbs46.com/news/city-council-committee-to-consider-police-pursuit-changes/article_83d4b2cc-d880-11eb-b4ea-fbde3d93bfdc.html

@CBS46

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2021 UPDATE: Milwaukee’s 2017 Incredibly Stupid Decision to Dramatically Increase Dangerous Pursuits Continues to Kill and Maim Innocent Citizens

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2021 UPDATE: Milwaukee’s 2017 Incredibly Stupid Decision to Dramatically Increase Dangerous Pursuits Continues to Kill and Maim Innocent Citizens

by Jon Farris

Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

Let me say this AGAIN.

Milwaukee’s 2017 Incredibly Stupid Decision to Dramatically Increase Dangerous Pursuits Continues to Kill and Maim Innocent Citizens.

Please see Elliot Hughes (@ElliotHughes12) Journal-Sentinel (@JournalSentinel) article at https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2021/06/16/milwaukee-reckless-driving-boy-16-dies-after-stolen-car-crash/5295939001/

Police said officers attempted to stop a stolen vehicle on the 9900 block of West Good Hope Road shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday, but it instead led them on a chase and eventually crossed over into oncoming traffic.
Police said the pursuit was then terminated, but the car continued to drive against traffic and hit another vehicle head-on at 50 to 60 miles an hour

In 2017, against the wishes of then Chief of Police Ed Flynn, the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission MANDATED a WEAKENING of Milwaukee’s good pursuit policy – a policy which SAVED LIVES.  And as a result of that change, Milwaukee’s 2018 pursuits were up 239 percent, (https://pursuitforchange.org/advocacy/an-open-letter-to-milwaukee-police-chief-alfonso-morales-and-the-milwaukee-fire-and-police-commission/) with each of those chases endangering officers and citizens. How could anyone consider that to be a good thing?

Then, sadly as I had warned and predicted in 2017 (https://pursuitforchange.org/advocacy/statement-for-the-milwaukee-fire-police-commission/), one of MPD’s officers was killed in 2018. Officer Charles Irvine died in a pursuit related crash . Officer Irvine was the same age as my son, killed in an unnecessary police pursuit.

Officer Irvine’s death was completely preventable.

But instead, Milwaukee chose to double down and chase even more stolen vehicles, KNOWINGLY ENDANGERING many many citizens each and every time.

So FOUR YEARS after making a truly CRITICAL MISTAKE, Milwaukee continues to endanger, maim and kill citizens while NOT solving anything. Is this incompetence or simply a blatant disregard for the area’s population?

PS:  Oh, I almost forgot. Milwaukee is working on yet more billboards. Just brilliant…

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article above:

“A cadre of city officials announced a new billboard campaign discouraging reckless driving. And they all touched on the troubling problem of people as young as 12 years old stealing cars and using them for joyriding and driving dangerously.”

And from the original campaign: (https://pursuitforchange.org/voices-of-victims/a-father-who-lost-his-innocent-bystander-son-in-a-police-chase-criticizes-milwaukee-billboard-campaign/). It was ineffective then and remains ineffective now.

 

PPS: If you search the News page for Milwaukee posts, you’ll find many, especially in 2017-2019…

admin2021 UPDATE: Milwaukee’s 2017 Incredibly Stupid Decision to Dramatically Increase Dangerous Pursuits Continues to Kill and Maim Innocent Citizens
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As Though We Don’t Have Enough To Deal With

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by Jonathan Farris
Dad and Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

 

February 23, 2021

As Though We Don’t Have Enough To Deal With

Paul & Scott

For any parent who has lost a child, regardless of that child’s age, there’s a gnawing ache that never completely goes away.

When the death first occurs and for several years afterwards, the wound is incredibly raw. Then, as years progress, many parents (definitely not all) learn to manage the pain and sorrow and move toward a more “normal” life.

This is what I call the “new normal” – because there will never again be the old normal…

The journey along this new normal has many speed bumps. Even after 14 years, for me music is a trigger for tears and moments sorrow. This is a regular occurrence and I’ve learned to simply go with it. The triggered event may last a minute or may last longer, but thankfully the new normal generally follows.

Because Paul was a victim of a crime (fleeing and officer in a police pursuit), our new normal includes issues surrounding the individual who killed Paul.

More than three years after Paul was killed (May 2007) we spoke at the trial. He was sentenced to 15-20 years plus 15 years additional probation for his crimes.

In early 2020, seemingly out of the blue, we received notification he was eligible for parole. Yep, an unexpected trigger event!

With help from many, we provided the parole board with convincing information that he should not be released early and they denied his release. But parole hearings often become an annual affair, as was the case with Paul’s killer.

On Monday I attended a Zoom Parole Board hearing for him. There were several parole board members, a victim’s advocate (the individual who helps guide us through the legal system maze), me, and “him.”

I won’t go into any more details, but after the hearing the parole board voted against early release.

So another trigger event can be tabled until next year, when we’ll likely go through the process again.

For all of you who knew Paul and who supported us through this ongoing journey, THANK YOU. This is a journey that’s virtually impossible without support from friends and family.

adminAs Though We Don’t Have Enough To Deal With
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May There Always Be Music & Light In Your Life

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Greetings from the end of an insane year. I have to tell you, I’m glad 2020 is heading out the door. Wow.
Happy Holidays,
Jon

2020 Holiday Greetings
from the Farris family, our companies & our advocacy

 

Original photograph by Jon Farris
Photograph taken at the Basilica of Notre Dame, Montreal

 

Please visit our holiday card collection at https://insurancerescue.com/holiday-cards/

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November 2, 2020

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November 2, 2020
Fourteen Birthdays

By Jonathan Farris, Dad and Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

Many of our readers will envision this particular Monday as the day before one of the United States’ most contentious Presidential elections.

Some of our readers are worried about the COVID19 pandemic and devastation caused to individuals, families, countries and the world. As of my writing this, 234,000 people have died in the US and 1,200,000 have died worldwide. Horrible beyond mere words.

But on November 2, 2020 I will take a moment to forget this election, to forget the pandemic, and to instead focus on good memories.

Paul Farris was taken from us in May of 2007. And 2020 will be his 14th missed birthday. Unimaginable.

I suspect given the current state of things, we would have emailed Paul a silly card, texted a funny greeting and then spoken to him when he finished work.

He would be heartbroken that such a horrendous chapter of history is being written in 2020. However, I suspect that in addition to being despondent, he’d be engaged doing whatever he could to make a better future for our world.

Or perhaps he’d just be sitting around drinking beer. We’ll never know…

 

Just like every birthday, and indeed every day, we miss you immensely.

Paul singing with theMark circa 2002

Paul

adminNovember 2, 2020
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May 27, 2020. Thirteen Years

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May 27, 2020. Thirteen Years

posted May 27, 2020

Thirteen years since Paul was stolen from us. 

 

Paul in his early years

Another unnecessary #PoliceChase occurred on May 27, 2007.

Paul Farris became another INNOCENT VICTIM.

We became yet another family GRIEVING – forever. 

When everything except your memories have been stolen, work hard to never forget.

We miss you, Paul.

 

PS: The posting cover photo is Paul and his mom at his 2006 Tuft’s University graduation. An awesome day.

PaulFarris.org

adminMay 27, 2020. Thirteen Years
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Border Patrol Agent Speaks Out About A High-Speed Chase That Ended In An Immigrant’s Death

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Sadly, in our current all-too-divisive country and world, many people will read this article and say, “So what, it was just some illegal aliens.”

So to them we say, those were REAL PEOPLE.  They had/have families and friends who love them.

How would you feel if a drunk was driving your family or friends and made the stupid decision to flee? This happens regularly. Would it be OK if police chased and as a result YOUR FAMILY was killed or grievously injured?  No, it would not be OK.

YOU    WOULD    BE    OUTRAGED.

The Border Patrol chases regularly, and with impunity. This is wrong. Many, if not most of those pursuits, could be eliminated with a stricter and smarter pursuit policy, significantly more driver training for Border Patrol Officers and much greater usage of Pursuit Reduction Technology.


Border Patrol Agent Speaks Out About A High-Speed Chase That Ended In An Immigrant’s Death

by Debbie Nathan
February 28 2020, 7:00 a.m.

A FEW MINUTES BEFORE midnight on January 29, an Ecuadorian man was killed in a car crash near downtown El Paso, Texas, only yards from the U.S.-Mexico border. An Ecuadorian woman was gravely hurt and weeks later is just emerging from a coma. She’s missing part of her skull and half of her body appears to be paralyzed. Stuck in a hospital thousands of miles from her kin, she has had few visitors, but one has been a Border Patrol agent who feels grief-stricken by the accident and believes the Border Patrol played a major role in causing it. The agent recently had an emotional meeting with a family member of the severely injured woman and offered to testify if the family brings a lawsuit.

Police reports say the crash was caused by a drunk driver who picked up the Ecuadorians after they crossed into the U.S. illegally. The driver is said to have been a smuggler who was speeding to evade the Border Patrol, and crashed because he was driving too fast. But the agent says that the chase was improper. It occurred near downtown El Paso on West Paisano Drive, on a section of road so prone to crashes that local law enforcement officers call it a “deadly curve.”

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

@DebbieNathan2 @JessicaHRodz @betsyreed2 @PursuitResponse @theintercept

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Wisconsin bill increases penalties for vehicle theft, reckless driving, and fleeing an officer

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Wisconsin Vehicle Theft Legislation 2020

Wisconsin State Senator Chris Kapenga stated on February 19, 2020 in news release, “Car thefts (are) increasing in 8 of the 10 most populous (Wisconsin) counties.”  Here is the proposed WI Legislation that increases the penalties for vehicle theft, reckless driving, and fleeing an officer: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/proposals/sb769

The PFC take on this legislation?

We believe that legislation INCREASING PENALTIES for individuals (criminals) who fail to stop for a law enforcement officer (LEO) is good policy. The same can be said for vehicle theft and reckless driving penalties.

However, where this legislation falls woefully short is relating to the EVER INCREASING NUMBER OF DANGEROUS #POLICECHASES that are occurring in Wisconsin, often as a result of these types of crimes.

If our elected officials REALLY WANT TO PROTECT CITIZENS AND LEO’S from unnecessary injuries and death, then implement STRONGER PURSUIT POLICIES, limiting police chases to only the most violent felony actions, and NOT FOR STOLEN CARS OR PROPERTY THEFT.

 


A PolitiFact story confirming Senator Kapenga’s statement and providing the data and statistics. https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/12/chris-kapanga/yes-auto-theft-most-large-wisconsin-counties-thoug/

By D.L. Davis
March 12, 2020

Yes, auto theft is up in most large Wisconsin counties, though down statewide

The issue of reckless driving has gained urgency as lawmakers, police and residents grapple with how to get a handle on increasing danger on neighborhood streets.

One approach: Crack down on auto theft.

In Milwaukee and elsewhere, the police pursuit of stolen vehicles has led to accidents, including a Feb. 1, 2020 incident in Wauwatosa, when a stolen car being pursued by Milwaukee police crashed into a tree.

State Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, introduced a bill to address auto theft that, among other things, increases penalties for reckless driving, fleeing an officer and vehicle theft. The measure won Senate approval Feb. 19, 2020 on a 19-14 vote and was sent to the Assembly.

In a news release that day, Kapenga argued: “Reckless driving and car thefts have been a major issue not only in Milwaukee County but also across the state with car thefts increasing in 8 of the 10 most populous counties.”

Is Kapenga right?

The evidence
When asked for backup, Kapenga’s chief of staff Kyle Koenen pointed to the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Uniform Crime Reporting Database.  READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

@SenatorKapenga @GannettDavis @PursuitResponse @StarChaseLLC @FaacIncorporated #ThereAreOtherOptions

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Many Pains Remain Forever – Parole Hearings

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by Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate

Many Pains Simply Remain Forever

It’s been a while since I posted a note. Apologies, but life has and continues to get in the way of my advocacy efforts.

I do, however, want to give you a brief update on the “justice system.”

In the early morning of May 27, 2007 a man named Javier Morales killed my son. It was a collision by this guy’s SUV, being pursued by a Massachusetts State Trooper for an illegal u-turn. Morales was doing 76MPH when he broadsided the taxi. The rest is too horrible to describe again, so I shall not.

Four years after Paul’s and Walid Chahine’s deaths, Morales was sentenced to prison for two concurrent sentences of 15-20 years, with dispensation for time already served. The “15” portion of that 15-20 year sentence is supposed to be THE EARLIEST that Morales would be eligible for parole.  So, doing the math, we should not expect anything about a parole hearing until May 23, 2022.

So imagine my family’s horror when, in late 2019 we received a letter from the Parole Board’s stating that his first parole hearing would be in 2020.

I won’t get into the details of why he was eligible for parole early, but suffice it to say the criminal justice system needs plenty of work.

So now we’ll deal with this additional insanity every year. Yes, many pains simply remain forever.

We miss you, Paul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Here is the post-hearing ruling from the Parole Board:

Dear Mr. Farris:

The Parole Board conducted a parole hearing for the above named offender and has voted to deny parole release. Inmates for whom the Board has denied parole may appeal the decision within 30 days or request reconsideration after 90 days.

If there is any change in the Board’s decision, you will be notified. The Parole Board conducts an annual review hearing for those individuals who have been denied parole. The offender will be scheduled for a parole hearing each year until parole is granted or the sentence is completed.

If the offender completes his sentence before his next scheduled parole hearing, the correctional facility will be responsible for informing you of the release. Please be advised, this offender may be eligible for mandatory release to supervision pursuant to M.G.L. c.127, §130B. If this does occur, you will be notified 14 days prior to the date of release to supervision. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.

Here’s the Farris family’s pre-hearing letter to the Parole Board:

RE: Javier Morales
Parole Hearing

Dear Members of the Massachusetts Parole Board,

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to express our great concerns regarding a possible early parole for Javier Morales, the individual who killed our son Paul Farris.

We are Jonathan, Roberta and Scott Farris, Paul Farris’ parents and brother.

At 4:30 AM on May 27, 2007 we received a call that no family should ever get – an emergency room doctor telling us our son had been killed in a car crash several hours earlier. There are simply no words to explain what that call was like. From that instant, and for every day since, our lives have been inexorably transformed for the worse.

Our incredible son and brother, Paul, was taken from our lives and from the lives of so many others who knew and loved him. We have not, nor shall we ever, heal from the emotional scars caused directly by a career criminal, Javier Morales.

We invite you to view Paul’s memorial website PaulFarris.org, to see, to hear and to better understand who we forever lost.

The police chase that killed Paul started with an illegal U-turn by Morales and his subsequent fleeing from a State Trooper. As a result of this, we are active with Pursuit For Change (PursuitForChange.org), an organization which advocates for stricter pursuit policies and for greater usage of pursuit reduction technology.

When Paul was killed, it took several days to learn what had happened that night; to learn how Paul Farris and Walid Chahine were killed and why Katelyn Hoyt was so severely injured that she nearly died and spent years recovering.

Paul is dead because Morales was once again driving illegally. Paul is dead because Morales illegally fled from a State Trooper and that trooper engaged Morales in a high-speed pursuit.

Paul was an amazing young man. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Tufts University in 2006 and was working as an insurance claims adjuster. He had taken his LSATs and planned to attend law school in 2008. Paul had absolutely everything going for him. Javier Morales killed him.

This was not an “accident,” but rather Morales’ deliberate and criminal flight from the police that caused Paul’s death. The borrowed SUV was going 76 mph, without headlights, on a narrow street in the most densely populated city in all New England. Whether Javier Morales had fired a gun that night or because he drove a 4,000-pound SUV that ripped Paul from the taxi – the result was the death of both Paul and Walid Chahine. Javier Morales killed them. Additionally, Katelyn Hoyt was so severely injured that she was unconscious for nearly four weeks. She remained in Massachusetts General Hospital for four months and continued rehabilitation with her parents in New York before finally being able to return to Boston.

As you can see from Morales’ lengthy arrest history below, since 1995 he drove illegally many times; he committed other crimes; he hurt people; and never displayed even the slightest remorse.

It is frighteningly obvious to us that when Morales is released from prison he will slide behind the wheel of a car. He will drive illegally. He will certainly run if pursued by law enforcement. And he will most assuredly injure, maim or kill another innocent victim.

From the summary below you can see Morales’ criminal history and the inordinate number of times he was given another chance, released and forgiven. And as a result of those previous decisions, on May 27, 2007 he crossed the threshold from petty criminal to murderer.

He deliberately ran from the police while illegally driving, and at that time our son and Scott’s brother, Paul Farris and Walid Chahine were both killed.

In 2011, after waiting several years for Morales to be deemed mentally competent to stand trial, he received two sentences of 15-20 years to be served concurrently. That was a very small price to pay for killing two innocent bystanders (Paul & Walid) and for the grievous injuries to a third victim (Katelyn).

Even taking into account time served beginning on May 27, 2007, Morales has served less than 13 years of his sentence. And he has done virtually nothing to redeem or better himself during these 12-plus years in prison.

Releasing Morales before he serves at least the minimum 15-year sentence would be a travesty and a great injustice to Paul, Walid, Katelyn and our grieving families. Morales skated away from far too many arrests and convictions, most for driving illegally, and there is simply no valid reason for him to be released early.

From the bottom of our hearts, we implore you to deny Morales’ parole.

Respectfully,

Jonathan, Roberta & Scott Farris
Jon@PursuitForChange.org
PaulFarris.org
PursuitForChange.org

Javier Morales’ arrest history (as of 5/29/2007)

When Javier Morales faced his first adult arraignment on May 24, 1995, it was twelve years before the fatal May 27, 2007 crash involving Jessica LeBlanc’s father’s car driven by Morales. Our son Paul Farris, one victim of the 2007 crash, was 14 the first time his accused murder stood before a judge.

These are the charges Morales has stood before judges on:

On May 24, 1995 Morales was arraigned in South Boston District Court for a compulsory insurance violation and operating a motor vehicle without a license. Morales defaulted, did not show up to court to answer for the charges and warrants were issued. Both charges were dismissed on May 1, 2001.

On Aug. 23, 1995 Morales was arraigned in Brookline District Court and charged with a compulsory insurance violation. The case was closed on Sept. 22, 1995 when the case was ruled nolle prosequi, which means the charges were dismissed as if they had never been brought because of insufficient evidence.

On May 24, 1996 Morales was arraigned in Dedham District Court and charged with trespassing. The trial was continued until Aug 7, 1999 and charges were continued without finding, which means the accused does not have a guilty plea entered on his or her record, but must comply with terms of probation. One year later, Morales defaulted on an order to pay court costs and a fine to the victim witness fund and a default warrant was issued. Four days later, the warrant was withdrawn and police dropped the charges on Sept. 3, 1997.

Morales was arraigned on Aug. 12, 1997 in Lynn District Court for disorderly conduct. The trial was continued until Oct. 3, 1997 and the charge was continued without finding. On April 3, 1998 Morales was sentenced to community service and ordered to pay a fine to the witness victim fund.

On Feb. 3, 1998 Morales appeared in court on allegations that he had violated his probation, which was terminated on April 14, 1998.

On Feb. 3, 1998 Morales was in Lynn District Court answering to charges of assault and battery, a possible violation of his probation. The trial was continued and on April 14, 1998 he was found guilty and sentenced to probation. Morales defaulted on paying into the victim witness fund on Aug. 2, 1999, but the default was removed the next day and police dismissed the charge on Dec. 3, 1999.

On April 30, 2001 Morales was arraigned in West Roxbury District Court on charges of malicious destruction of property, attempted larceny, possession of burglarious tools, and breaking and entering in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony. His trial was continued and he was issued a one-year suspended sentence on July 17, 2001. His trial was brought forward on Oct. 12, 2001 because of a probation violation. A judge issued a violation of probation finding and continued the trial to Jan. 17, 2003 at which time Morales was ordered to pay into the victim witness fund and his probation was terminated.

On Oct. 12, 2001 Morales was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, attaching the wrong motor vehicle plates, and compulsory insurance violation. A judge ordered him to pay court costs for all three charges and the trial was continued to March 4, 2002. Morales defaulted, the default was removed, and the trial was continued to June 24, 2002. Morales defaulted again, but the default was removed on July 2, 2002 and the charges were dismissed.

On June 4, 2004 Morales was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license in Roxbury District Court. The trial was continued to Aug. 12, 2004 and a default warrant was issued when Morales did not show up. The default was removed on Sept. 14, 2004 and the trial was continued to Nov. 30, 2004. Morales again defaulted, the default was removed on Feb. 18, 2005 and the trial continued to April 29, 2005, when he defaulted again and a warrant was issued. On Dec. 1, 2005 the default was removed and the charge was dismissed.

On Oct. 14, 2004 Morales was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license and knowingly receiving stolen property (a motor vehicle) in Somerville District Court. He had a jury trial and was found guilty of the license violation on Sept. 28, 2005. The other charge was dismissed. He was sentenced to a 10-day suspended sentence, which was terminated on Nov. 30, 2005.

On Nov. 17, 2005 Morales was arraigned on the charge of operating a vehicle with a suspended license in Concord District Court. He was in court on Dec. 27, 2005; Jan. 30, 2006; and on March 7, 2006 he was found guilty. Morales was sentenced to supervised probation and received a 10-day suspended sentence. He was ordered to pay a fine to the victim witness fund on Sept. 6, 2006 and defaulted on Oct. 31, 2006.

On May 29, 2007 Morales was arraigned from his hospital bed at Massachusetts General Hospital for Somerville District Court on the following charges: motor vehicular homicide by negligent operation, failure to stop for police, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, speeding, larceny of a motor vehicle, operation of a motor vehicle with a suspended license (subsequent offense), 10 counts of failure to stop or yield, marked lanes violation, breakdown lane violation, motor vehicle lights violation, improper turn. He was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail and a pre-trial conference has been scheduled for Jun 29, 2007.

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