400 people are killed each year nationally from police pursuits and are innocent bystanders according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Moreover there are several thousand more bystanders that are injured each year. In addition; more than 200 police officers have been killed as well.
Los Angeles, Orange County and the Southern California regions have the highest pursuit rates in the country, partly due to the fact that we have such an extensive freeway system. Unfortunately almost half of all high-speed chases end in a collision, and with that, serious personal injury. Police departments create their own rules of pursuit, yet they do not follow them and cause great mayhem.
This week in Orange County the Garden Grove police attempted to stop a BMV for a simple traffic violation when the driver immediately sped off. Later the police found that the vehicle was stolen, but only after the BMW crashed into five other cars at the intersection of Lampson and Gilbert streets. Fortunately there were no life threatening injuries among the six vehicle involved in the crash.
Los Angeles, Orange County and the Southern California regions have the highest pursuit rates in the country. Unfortunately almost half of all high-speed chases end in a collision, and with that, serious personal injury. Police departments create their own rules of pursuit, yet they do not follow them and cause great mayhem. This lack of accountability is causing unnecessary tragedy and has to change.
Another stolen car case in California did not end as well. Kristie Priano of Chino died in a police pursuit. The town is upset and working to change the law. She was not being pursued, and officers did not follow protocol. Kristie's tragic death is the origin behind "Kristie's Law". This proposed law would restrict immunity for bystander injuries and deaths caused by law enforcement high speed pursuits.
Orange County California is not immune from Police pursuits that cause injury and death. There have been at least 3 high speed pursuit claims in just the last year. In April of this year, an Orange County man was killed, struck by a police car in pursuit at over 700 MPH. Orange County lost a resident last year when she was walking. A police cruiser struck and killed her while in pursuit. The police were chasing a driver that had crossed the double line to pass, certainly not a fleeing felon. The list goes on.
Pursuits kill innocent victims and there needs to be more regulation and accountability. And while we cannot criticize injury when a fleeing motorist causes injury, we certainly should not tolerate hot dogging police pursuit that causes injury and death.
This law has not passed the California legislative efforts and until it does, we will have to continue to suffer the tragic loss of life and injury without compensation. Imagine your spouse killed and you are left with nothing but a memory? Here are a few technologies that might reduce accidental injuries and deaths. The popular PIT maneuver has been successful in recent years but it does take police skill and coordination to surround and block the suspects with their own vehicles. Spike strips can also be used but takes a lot of police maneuverability to get ahead of the suspect to drop the strips.
In addition to using spike strips and PIT maneuvers, there is a new technology called StarChase. Currently it is in the final testing phase by the Los Angeles Police Department and the test results look very positive. Some technology is helping such as StarChAse which shoots a net from the front of the cruiser onto the fleeing vehicle. The police can then track and monitor the vehicle via GPS. This allows the police to turn off their sirens and lights and slow down; then pursue suspects without creating a dangerous situation.
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Article Added on Tuesday, August 10, 2010
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