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, pursuit stories 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 pursuit reduction 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 I can be or any help. I 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.
Pursuit For Change
Double-fatal police chase: Pursuits ‘2nd most dangerous thing’ for cops
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.