High Speed Police Chases

Need I say more? Well of course I do because this is Tha Dope and y’all want details.

For the six of you who don’t already know, I’m an auto claims guy. Specifically, I settle total losses on cars. 90% of my job is buying realy mundane cars with really mundane damage. Most totals have realy minor, if any injuries at all but occasionally I get one where a semi falls off an overpass, or an overpass falls onto a car (had one of those a few years back–this is Denver) or a guy decides to play target practice with his adenoids in the cab of his truck with an overloaded .50 cal black powder rifle… Accidents happen, people commit suicide–sometimes in their vehicles. That’s life.

But police chases…great gawd a’mighty! PCs are just your basic road rage wine in a government bottle. I can’t give you pictures because they technically belong to the insurance company, but let me sum up:

Our guy runs a red light, attracts the attention of the local constable who decides the guy needs a ticket. Outstanding public service so far. Running red lights creates some of my least communicative customers. Our guy doesn’t want a ticket and decides he needs to elude so he hits the freeway in rural BF Colorado. Over 100 mph for 20 minutes with the fuz behind him all the way. Whether on purpose or because of a mechanical problem with his entry-level American-made commuter car, dude decides to play “England!” and rams an oncoming semi. Semi driver? He’s toast. Literally. Nothing left of the cab but some frame, engine and a 4x4 piece of sheet metal. Driver burned up in the cab. Our guy? Busted up some, but miraculously did not die. He’s in jail now, another success story for truth, justice and the American Way.

The problem? I wonder if at any time during the 20 minutes between running the red light and killing the truck driver our guy would have simply gone home and bragged about outrunning a cop downtown–if they’d only just gotten the plate # and then backed off. But cclearly he was a lawless perpetrator. And no, he hadn’t stolen the car. He was just a dumbass spurred to the apex of dumbassedness by some adrenaline-filled blue meanie dumb asses. Roof-mounted TOW missiles on top of the police cruisers would have made more sense than this.

Do they necessarily know if the vehicle is stolen or not? Because if it is stolen, they’re not going to have a lot of success grabbing the guy’s license plate and going to see the owner.

I don’t believe that High Speed Chases are a Bad Thing ™ that we should not be allowing. No free “run away means get away” for the bad guys, please.

What kind of car was this dude driving that he can ram a semi and demolish it, but walk away relatively unscathed himself? It usually works the other way around.

More and more police departments are putting rules into place to prevent this sort of thing. That said, trying to outrun police when being pulled over immediately triggers every suspicious activity neuron in the officers’ brains. Is he running because he’s an asshole, or is he running because he an asshole who has a body in the trunk? If the police have a blanket policy of no chases, then every car thief out there has just been given permission to steal and chop cars at will.

There’s not a perfect answer - the best is to temper the need to discourage drivers from trying to run from the police with overall public safety concerns.

I agree with you that chasing a red light runner at 100+ mph may not be the wisest use of police time and don’t have much to add, but the quoted sentence is under-stated comedy gold, IMHO.

  1. Just because the car doesn’t pop up as “stolen” on the computer doesn’t mean that the car is not stolen. It just means it hasn’t been reported stolen.

  2. The decision to deliberately ram another vehicle on the highway rests entirely with the fleeing suspect.

I dunno. Normal people do not typically run from a ticket at over 100MPH just for the hell of it.

The car was not reported as stolen, I can’t think of why the police would have assumed it was. Run away =/= get away. We’ve been motoring around for over a century now, you’d think we could come up wth something less entertaining than a high-speed chase. This one was on the freeway–this kind of thing goes down in the city as well and it’s ridiculous! What can this guy POSSIBLY have done that would justify instigating a possibly lethal pursuit? If he had 50k of crack in the trunk so what? Are the cops going to say that the immediate safety risk is worth the potential health risk of the drugs?

Dude was in fact rather quite heavily scathed–wrecked his hip, heart & stomach. But he could still fog a mirror and so got to stand trial. Still, I am also impressed he not transformed into a greasy spot from the impact.

Wonder if this will change once word gets out that cops aren’t allowed to chase you.

Perhaps because the driver thought running was a better choice than a ticket?

If it is stolen, the car will be turned over and chopped, and as stated, taking the plate will have been useless.

Who’s to say what someone who decides running is a better alternative has done to make that choice? Until apprehended, you don’t know if he’s transporting a trunk load of ecstasy or a trunkload of body parts. That’s the problem with runners - no way to figure why they are running, and if pursuing is worthwhile, until after capture.

We have–helicopters. They’re not always available, though.

Love ya baby but let’s get one thing straight. If the car is stolen, if we KNOW the car is stolen. If it’s got a big red sticker on the back reading “ATTENTION, THIS HERE CAR IS HOTTER THAN THE SUN!”, then the cops still need to let it go. Even more especially so because the driver is clearly improperly socialized and is likely to do something crazy to avoid going to the joint! I’ll HAPPILY chalk it up to aproperty loss if the car gets away and someone’s LIFE isn’t endangered. And if there’s a nightmare of slaughter in the trunk, guess what? They’re already dead! Apprehending the killer isn’t going to change that.

And maybe some cops can chime in–what %age of runners have any better cause than an expired license/no insurance card/b.a.c. of .13/ or broken drug parole? Any Ted Bundies ever caught in a chase? Any Tony Montanas?

What happened to police departments using those devices that would send an electric shock to a car, causing it to shut off?

Slight hijack: I don’t understand why cars can even go 100MPH when the highest posted speed limit in the US is 75 (right?). Why don’t cars have a maximum legal speed of 75MPH?

The way to solve police chases is to have every poice department have a police helicopter. The helicopter follows the guy around while the cops follow at a safe speed. The copter can advise to where the guy is heading and you can have police meet up where the guy stops.

It is entirely the fault of the guy who ran. If he hadn’t tried to get away, and just taken the ticket and paid the couple hundred dollar fine, the semi driver would be alive.

If it was just drugs then it’s not a big deal. But the cops don’t know if it’s drugs or five young kids he has tied up in the trunk that he is going to rape and video tape it and sell on the internet until the guy stops and he’s not going to stop if the cops are not after him.

The suspect ran a red light. A patrol car witnessed the event, and moved to make a traffic stop.

At this point, the suspect has two choices: Pull over, or run. Suspect decides to run. Is there any fault on the cop at this point? If so, why?

The suspect still has the same choices available to him. He decides to get on the freeway (presumably because he feels he can reach higher speeds, and encounter less stopped traffic than the city streets). Cop continues pursuit. Is the cop at fault now? If so, why?

For 20 more minutes, the suspect still has the same two choices available to him. (Surrender, or continue to flee.) At this point, you think the cop should back off, I assume.

There are legitimate reasons for cops to “back off”, but there are also legitimate concerns for them not to back off all the time. It needs to be up to the law enforcement to make a judgement call.

Even in those jurisdictions that are implementing “no pursuit” guidlines, IIRC, they have mental checklists for the officers involved (and the supervisors) to go through to reach their decisions:

  1. Is the car stolen? (If it is, then you definately can’t identify the driver.)

  2. Is there an unacceptable risk to innocent bystanders or the cops themselves? (Rural freeway chases, while they are at higher speeds, put fewer folks at risk then city street chases.)

  3. Is the reason for the stop serious enough to warrant continued danger? (Are the chasing him for a traffic violation, or for fleeing a bank robbery?)

I am in favor of giving the officers latitude in making these judgement calls.

When I read your OP, however, it came across as a cop bashing thread. (“Those fucking Nazis! Why did they have to chase him, and get him killed!?”)

Well, the cops are not omniscient, or even close to it. This guy could be fleeing for any number of reasons, that the cops can’t know just by looking at him from 20+ feet away at high speed.

It’s more important to remember that the entire “blame” for the whole tragic incident rests on the driver who decided it was better to get chased by the cops (and put who knows how many lives at risk) and try to dodge a ticket than the individual who the city/state specifically empowered and directed to enforce the laws.

Anthony Jackson, apparently.

By the way, I consider the running dude to be a slimey fuck and hope he does very hard time in the big house. I would pit him, but so what, he’s just an irresponsible schlub in a world full of irresponsible schlubs (an official subsect of the Teeming Millions). But the cops are the professionals, they should know better.

And to mount up on Tasha & Lute’s helicopter suggestion, Helicopters don’t have to be expensive. The cold, unfeeling insurance reptile in me thinks this may have been a better investment than a $35k Semi and $100k bodily injury claim. Insurance companies ain’t stupid, how about we buy or subsidize the aircraft? What’s a pilot cost? $50k/year? Where’s Johnny L.A. when we need him? We could give him the bird (heh), pay for the upkeep and just put him on call with a full salary!

Ok…maybe there’s not enough high-speed nastiness to warrant that kind of program everywhere…but I’ll bet it would work in Orange COunty. :slight_smile:

I am not a car designer, but if you want to be able to go from 0 to 60 in under 20 seconds (or to get out of being stuck in the snow, drive uphill, etc.), you will need to have a minimum amount of horses under the hood to do that. Unfortunately, this translates to having the horses available to go faster than 75 as a top speed.

(I believe that there are top speed and horsepower limits in US street legal cars…not sure what that is.)

Heh, the Orange County PD is better off just turning on FOX and using their helicopter footage. :cool:

You forgot the puppies and kittens that he’s going to roast alive afterwards for a snack.

CMC fnord!