High Speed Chases: Treating A Public Health Problem
Unless a law enforcement officer is trying to stop a suspected murderer or other serious felon, there's little reason to engage in a dangerous high speed pursuit when a driver fails to heed a squad car's red and blue lights. It makes no sense to put innocent drivers and pedestrians at risk to stop a common offender when he or she can be arrested more safely at work or at home the next day.
In March, TalkLeft wrote about proposed legislation in California that would repeal a law giving immunity to officers who engage in a reckless pursuit. That bill was introduced after a police officer chased a 15-year-old driver who stole her mother's car. Speeds increased as the girl tried to elude the pursuing officer, until she collided with a van, killing a 15-year-old passenger.
CNN reports (text here, "A police chase gone bad" available in today's "most watched video" section) on the languishing legislation, and on the larger issue of "dinosaur police chiefs" who refuse to adopt policies that would limit the discretion of officers to pursue at high speeds. As this article suggests, high speed chases are "an emerging public health problem," one that accounted for more than 7,000 deaths between 1982 and 2004.
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