Board of Commissioners To Conduct Independent Investigation of Fatal High Speed Chase

From newspaper accounts it appears that the Board of Commissioners of Clayton County may conduct an independent investigation into a police chase which resulted in the wrongful death of two innocent women who were returning from bible study when a pickup truck fleeing from a Clayton County police officer slammed into their vehicle on Old National Highway in Atlanta. The deadly pursuit began when the police noticed a suspect allegedly soliciting a prostitute. Even though this is a misdemeanor and a minor offense, Clayton County police officers began a high speed pursuit of the suspect which ended with deadly results. Even though the Clayton County Police Department policy does not allow for high speed pursuits of misdemeanor offenders, nonetheless, the Police Department has publicly come out in defense of its officers claiming that the pursuit was justified under the circumstances.
There is a way that the Clayton County Board of Commissioners can protect its tax payers and save lives at the same time. The Board of Commissioners should restrict police pursuits to cases involving violent crimes. Unless the fleeing suspect is known to be violent or known to have committed a violent felony, it hardly makes sense to pursue non-violent suspects at high speeds particularly when it is foreseeable that innocent third parties can be killed. If the Board of Commissioners investigates this incident, it should find that a restrictive policy would have protected these women and that there would be no unnecessary loss of life caused by a restrictive policy.
It simply is not worth taking a human life to capture someone for soliciting a prostitute. The need to immediately apprehend the suspect in this case was clearly outweighed by the danger of the chase to the public. And yet, as long as the police department allows its officers to chase under circumstances whenever they individually deem it appropriate, the public will be at risk. Rather than relying upon the judgment of an officer involved in a high speed pursuit, where his adrenalin is pumping and where his judgment may be altered by the natural desire to apprehend a suspect, the Clayton County Police Department should adopt a restrictive police policy which does not allow the public to be exposed to risk of serious injury or death unless a potentially dangerous chase is justified. In our judgment, the only chase that is ever warranted is where the police are pursuing someone for a violent felony. Under such circumstances, the danger to the public posed by the suspect is equal to the danger caused by the chase itself. For non-violent offenses, the dangers presented by the chase will typically always exceed the danger presented by non-violent suspect. We hope the Board of Commissioners will save lives and adopt a restrictive policy. If not the public is at risk, the officer chasing the suspect is a risk and yes, even the non-violent suspect is at risk. Again, the death penalty to the innocent is not worth capturing a “John” in a solicitation case. This may very will happen again if the policy is not changed.

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