All posts tagged: USA Today

Keeping the public safe during a high speed chase

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SHAWANO, Wis. — – A 29-year-old Pulaski man was taken into custody early Friday morning after leading law enforcement on a high speed chase through three counties. His name has not been released.

The Shawano County Sheriff’s Office was carrying out an attempt to locate from the Brown County Sheriff’s Office and found the vehicle around 11:30 Thursday night, according to the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department. They tried to stop the man, but he did not stop and proceeded to drive 86 miles through Shawano, Waupaca and Marathon Counties, the Sheriff’s office said.

The Marathon County Sheriff’s Department eventually stopped the vehicle and arrested the 29-year-old.

The number of high speed chases is on the rise in Wisconsin, according to the USA Today Network. It found the number reported last year was a record high.

However, that doesn’t mean the public is at risk. Law enforcement has specific protocol to determine whether or not to pursue a high speed chase.

“The amount of traffic on the roadway we have to consider, the demographics of the area of the pursuit,” said Wisconsin State Patrol Officer Scott Reignier.
“Is it happening in a city, in a residential area, out in the country?”
The Shawano County Sheriff’s department, involved in the chase overnight, knows how dangerous those chases can be.
“We lost a deputy a couple decades ago, he was responding to a high speed chase,” said Adam Bieber, Shawano County Sheriff.
“So our officers, our deputies, our administration know full well the dangers of high speed chases.”
Safety of both officers and the public is the number one priority for law enforcement.
“There are a lot of things to consider when being involved in pursuit, the most important being the danger to the public and reasonable safety,” said Scott Reignier, Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper. “At what point does the pursuit become more dangerous to the public than the actual behavior of the violator.”

The man involved in the overnight chase will be charged on a few different counts in Shawano and Marathon Counties, according to Shawano County Sheriff Adam Bieber.


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High speed chases have killed thousands of innocent bystanders

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A death a day from police chases


Corrections and clarifications: An earlier version of this story used an incorrect first name for Maj. Travis Yates

More than 5,000 bystanders and passengers have been killed in police car chases since 1979, and tens of thousands more were injured as officers repeatedly pursued drivers at high speeds and in hazardous conditions, often for minor infractions, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The bystanders and the passengers in chased cars account for nearly half of all people killed in police pursuits from 1979 through 2013, USA TODAY found. Most bystanders were killed in their own cars by a fleeing driver.

Police across the USA chase tens of thousands of people each year — usually for traffic violations or misdemeanors — often causing drivers to speed away recklessly. Recent cases show the danger of the longstanding police practice of chasing minor offenders.

A 25-year-old New Jersey man was killed July 18 by a driver police chased for running a red light.

A 63-year-old Indianapolis grandmother was killed June 7 by a driver police chased four miles for shoplifting.

A 60-year-old federal worker was killed March 19 near Washington, D.C., by a driver police chased because his headlights were off.

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USA TODAY: Police chase deaths are up in 2014

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The number of people killed in high-speed police chases surged in 2014 to its highest level since 2007 despite efforts by police departments to reduce the risks of people getting killed and injured, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

A total of 385 people died in motor-vehicle crashes in 2014 that occurred while police were chasing a vehicle, up 16% from the 333 people killed in 2013, the USA TODAY review of federal records shows.

“A huge percentage of these deaths are unnecessary,” said Jonathan Farris, former chairman of PursuitSAFETY, which advocates to restrict police chases and improve reporting of chase-related deaths and injuries. Farris’ son Paul, 23, was killed in 2007 near Boston by a motorist being chased for a traffic violation.

Approximately 73 of the people killed in 2014 were bystanders — mostly people in their own cars that were hit by a fleeing motorist — and 77 were passengers in the fleeing vehicles. Twelve of those killed were children age 14 or younger, including an infant who had not yet turned one. Five were police officers.

Thousands more people were injured in the chases, which usually begin for minor infractions such as traffic violations. Although the federal government does not count injuries in police chases, five states that do keep track reported that a combined total of 1,764 people were injured in 2014 in their states.

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USA TODAY: FBI vastly understates police deaths in chases

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation has drastically understated the number of police who have been killed in high-speed chases, counting only 24 deaths since 1980 despite records showing more than 370 officers killed in vehicle pursuits in that time span, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

At least 371 police officers were killed in chases from 1980 through 2014, according to a USA TODAY analysis of the U.S. Transportation Department database of fatal vehicle crashes and records of officer deaths maintained by two private police-memorial groups. That’s more than 15 times the number of chase-related deaths than the FBI counts, and makes chases the fifth-leading cause of police deaths, USA TODAY found.

The undercount is one of the most extreme examples of the federal government’s inability to accurately track violent deaths, and has led the FBI to minimize the danger of police chasing motorists, often at high speeds and in dangerous conditions, at a time when many police departments are restricting or considering restricting vehicle pursuits.

“The fact that these numbers have been undercounted further emphasizes the magnitude of the problem and the need for sensible restrictions on pursuit driving,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a think tank on law-enforcement issues. “This is important for the safety of officers and citizens alike.”

The FBI did not dispute USA TODAY’s findings and said it started taking steps in 2010 to improve its count of officers killed in police pursuits, but has yet to publish new information.

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