De-Ja Vu : More Police Chases Equal More Deaths

Last week we read about what has become an all too familiar pattern, more police chases equal more deaths. In one case in Los Angeles a six year old was killed when the police were chasing suspects who were believed to have been involved in a drug transaction earlier. The death penalty was imposed on this six year old girl in order to catch a suspected drug user. Was the price worth it? Also in Los Angeles, a motorcycle officer was killed during a pursuit when he lost control of the motorcycle. In a police chase in Jacksonville, two police officers and a suspect were hospitalized with serious injuries. These were three separate incidents which occurred on June 10. On the same day there was an article which appeared in the newspaper in Kentucky about another innocent victim of a police chase. In that case, the police were apparently chasing a suspect in a stolen vehicle. During the chase, the suspect lost control and ran into the victim’s car, which incident left three children without a father and a wife without her husband. In the Kentucky case, a father of three was killed because the police felt it was more important to the public safety to catch someone driving a stolen car than it was to protect the lives of innocent motorists who might be endangered by the pursuit.
We have seen these kinds of articles over and over and over again. It is very distressing to read about the carnage caused by these chases. We have never advocated that police chases should be terminated. When the suspect being pursued is violent, has raped someone, murdered someone, or is known to represent a clear danger to the public, there is no alternative, the suspect must be chased and should be apprehended, if possible, with due regard for the safety of the motoring public. However, when non-violent offenders are being chased, the cost to the innocent members of the motoring public is simply too great. We should not impose the death penalty on innocent people in order to capture non-violent offenders. Let the suspects go rather than kill the innocent.

Statistics and research prove that terminating dangerous pursuits will not increase crime nor the number of suspects who flee. Non-violent suspects usually flee because they are scared or stupid, not because the are inherently dangerous. Why kill the innocent to capture a scared and stupid non-violent person? The police do it because they mistakenly believe it is necessary to the public good, despite the costs. We disagree. There are too many innocent victims across this country to support chasing until the wheels come off which is the way too many police departments function. Policies need to be changed to allow chases for violent offenders only.

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