Published 7:43 am Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Pursuit policies may need a second look
High-speed car chases make for great news coverage. Last year, for example, Los Angeles averaged over one chase per day, many of which are broadcast by television crews hovering in helicopters above the chase area. It's probably safe to say that Los Angeles police officers and sheriff deputies had a good deal of hands on experience dealing with such situations.
Citing safety concerns, Los Angeles recently announced that except in very limited situations, such chases would cease. It was a smart decision made by those who had a great deal of background on the matter.
Last week a motorist led police and sheriff vehicles on a chase across Escambia County. Law enforcement officials from the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, Atmore, Flomaton, Brewton and Alabama State Troopers all got involved. Speeds reportedly hit 100 miles per hour along the way. Several cars were struck during the chase, and the pack zig-zagged over the railroad tracks in downtown Brewton.
Fortunately, only one civilian was injured and no law enforcement personnel were injured in Friday's dangerous chase, but there were many close calls. Local law enforcement officials receive training in pursuit, but in our area, probably don't get enough practice to make it a sensible policy.
In our view, local officials need to examine the policy recently instituted in Los Angeles. They need to re-think their pursuit policy. Public safety needs to remain the number one issue, and watching the line of vehicles speed through town gave one doubts whether those in pursuit were more interested in safety, or the recognition of being the officer that caught the suspect.