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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