Some states are enacting laws that only allow officers to give chase for a certain period of time, then they have to pull off. I personally feel this is a safe and logical law. How do you feel about it? Also, what are your ideas for stopping crazy motorists?
For instance, do you feel newer cars should have mechanisms that allow for police officers to disable you vehicle in high speed pursuits?
I see your point with the 20 year sentence, mainly because runners are endangering so many lives. But 20 years !?! I think maybe 3 years jail time and then no driver’s license for ten. Something like that.
Obviously, there are times when high speed pursuits are dangerous and should be called off. It’s hard to come up with a hard and fast rule, because a lot depends on the circumstances, such as the severity of the crime, road conditions, residential area vs. interstate highway, etc.
It’s easy to say that you shouldn’t pursue someone with a burned out taillight through a school zone at 120 mph during recess. But what if the person you’re pursuing is a known serial killer/rapist? Sometimes there are no easy answers.
As far as installing a device to allow police to disble your car, it would probably not work, because within five minutes of the first unit coming off the assembly line someone will figure out how to remove/disable it.
And these are the states where criminals know that they’ll get away as long as they can evade capture “for a certain period of time”. This encourages runners and you may end up with even more damage/injuries/fatalities.
Not mandatory. The judge should be able to weigh any mitigating circumstances.
My wife and I were watching Court TV last night and they had on “When Police Chases Go Wrong” or “World’s Worst Police Chases” or some such crap. We watched footage from police cars and news choppers of cops chasing people at speeds exceeding 90 mph down busy streets and sometimes even sidestreets. All we could think about was the poor kid crossing his street who gets creamed by the moron trying to outrun the cops or else being in a car sideswiped by some doofus who thinks he’s Bo Luke.
Sure, I want these guys off the roads, but don’t risk the lives of me and my family. If you have the guy’s license plate (and it isn’t a stolen car), let him get home and then bust him. If you have a chopper following him, let him think he got away and just follow from the air.
Personally, I think a police chase should be a last resort. A chase should only be undertaken if the benefits outweigh the risks, and the risks are significant. Some 15 year-old joy rider getting away isn’t the end of the world, and personally I’d rather see him get away with his crime than end up dead (or kill somebody else). The same basic thing goes for drunk drivers; they’re dangerous, but the vast majority of them make it home without hurting anybody, which won’t be the case if they’re drunk, going 100mph the wrong way down a freeway being chased by cops.
An armed robber who just shot and killed a bank teller, on the other hand, needs to be apprehended. The police should still be smart about it–setting up road blocks, shutting down roads, calling out a chopper–but some risk has to be accepted. Alternate measure of apprehension should be looked at too. Do we know who he is? Can we just go to his house and wait for him? Can we risk that he might kill somebody else while we’re waiting?
My solution? All police chases should be monitored by a supervisor, who can call it off if at any time if they feel the chase has become too dangerous. If the supervisor calls it off all police vehicles stop, turn off their emergency equipment, and go the other way. The police involved in the chase are responsible for providing timely and accurate updates to the supervisor. Actually, I’d be very suprised if most police forces don’t have a policy like this in place already.
However, if they know they will get away with it by punching down on the gas when they see lights come on, what do you think the chances are that the drunk will hit 100 trying to get the chase to stop? The police may not have gotten a good look at the license plate, or at who was driving, so it would be impossible to prosecute people for these crimes. It’s an easy out for the car thief, or the drunk driver, or the guy with no license, no insurance, carrying a boatload of cocane in the passengers seat.
I’d rather figure out how to make joyriders, drunks and general nitwits decide not to escalate their minor infraction into a death race. If there’s a problem here it isn’t the police chasing people, it’s people running who have no good reason to run.
It’s a tough call, if you make a rule that you call off a chase if the perp enters a school zone, then the first thing a perp chased by a cop will do is head for the nearest school zone. So I think you have to leave it up to the cop to decide, and if the cop does kill a child while not catching the child raper, then the cop should get the 20 years.
I’m willing to bet that some not insignificant portion of car chase drivers are bipolar patients off their meds. Lots of juries would have a hard time sentencing a mentally ill but technically sane defendant to 20 years.
As a long-time stable bipolar person, I bet you are right for at least some. I had one manic episode that lasted three months and I pulled some really insane shit including high-speed reckless driving. It is amazing that I didn’t get caught for any of it and disturbing to see what a brazen person call pull and still not get in real trouble. I have often thought about what the juries would have done but I really was out of my mind exacerbated by a critical series of psychiatric mistakes.
Manic episodes or being strung out on certain drugs can mean that the driver isn’t thinking the way that sane people think and can be highly unpredictable to outside observers. The problem is that even I can’t say if it is better to stop them before they do something more crazy or let it go and hope that the problem takes itself away from the general public. It is something to keep in mind though because the behavior could repeat itself over a short period of time.
My father (a former sheriff) used to tell his deputies not to keep chasing somebody if they refused to pull over and were getting reckless. His position was that it was safer that way and they could always radio ahead to another officer if necessary.
And if the chopper was an Apache gunship, I think it would only take a few demonstrations of what a 30mm cannon can do to a car and the incidence of people running from the police would decrease significantly to the point of being almost non-existent. Yeah, it’s harsh, but I’d prefer seeing moron boy who doesn’t want a speeding ticket getting it rather than some innocent family.
Whenever I watch “World’s Wildest Police Videos” or whatever on Spike, I always wonder why they don’t shoot tires out more often. I don’t mean shoot them out when the guy is going 90 down the freeway, but when the driver first pulls off or isn’t going too fast and the cop has a good chance at hitting tires and not a person. But I am not a cop and I don’t shoot guns so I really have no idea of the true logistics of doing it.
When I was stationed in Italy, I got a permit to drive on Italian roads. Their speed traps are signifcantly different than they are here. They have to policemen, one mans a radar gun the other holds a “lollipop” which is a large red reflector on a stick. If the officer drops the lollipop down to his side, you pull over. If you don’t, the officer opens fire on your car. IIRC, only the first two shots are at the tires, then they aim at the back window(towards the driver’s side).
I have passed a few of these speed traps and very closely watched the lollipop. I wouldn’t hesitate to pull over if the lolli had been dropped. A little harsh? Yup, but high speed chases in Italy are a rare occasion.