Last night, (3/4/19)
I watched in HORROR on KCAL9, ANOTHER horrific car chase thru the streets of the San Fernando Valley. My friend Juan Fernandez and his team handled the commentary as professionally as usual....but the fact that a well oiled newscast, written, timed and ready to be executed is totally thrown out the window so that the public can watch salaciously, is part of the problem. It IS news and they are doing their job, but what is being covered is a tragedy waiting to happen. Not only does the public WANT to see these chases....but the TV stations are COMPETING with technology to show stats on screen of street placement and speed. RATINGS RULE.
The "Chase" policies followed by the California CHP, LAPD and most local police department are ones that have been developed over years, and I am completely and totally against their premise. PROTECTING the public is SUPPOSED to be the FIRST priority, but in fact, that turns out to be the LAST priority as these chases ALWAYS ALWAYS become more dangerous as they continue, especially when they realize that they are being televised. What happens is the ones they are protecting are themselves, police and their vehicles FIRST.
We have come to a time where THEIR safety and the safety of property is more important than the public's. When they signed up for this job, they knew what they were getting into, ESPECIALLY these days, but time and time again, and last night.....after the driver of the stolen car broadsided his first innocent victim, there was an LAPD cruiser RIGHT BEHIND HIM. THAT was the moment they should have "PIT" Maneuvered him, or planned to.....but instead.....they backed off and let the helicopter take the lead. It went on like that at high and low speeds thru Northridge for almost an hour until he hit a SECOND vehicle......which should NEVER have been allowed to happen. The police say THEY KNOW BETTER how to handle these situations. I have said for 28 years......THE ARE DOING IT WRONG!!!!
These people who commit crimes ultimately know they are gonna get caught, but they figure they have nothing to lose by trying to get away.....and every life in other cars and on the street are just obstacles in the way.
I truly believe the CHASE POLICY of these agencies MUST be re-evaluated to change the emphasis to apprehension ASAP, and if that means putting the police at higher risk....so be it......it will put the PUBLIC at lower risk. They believe this policy IS what does that........in fact....it does the Opposite.
The Los Angeles Grand Jury released its 2016-17 report on "High Speed Pursuit Policies" based on data compiled in 2015. It is comprehensive look at what happened and what SHOULD happen when our police decide to engage thru our city streets and freeways to chase someone suspected of breaking the law. It could be someone who ranges from having a broken tail light to a suspected murderer....but the policy engages, and most of the time, they apprehend their suspect. Innocent motorists and pedestrians are immediately put in mortal danger by the person who decided to run from the police FOR WHATEVER REASON, and The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that the police are immune from even being sued by any victims that the police pursuit might injure or kill....even if the police did NOT follow the department chase policy!
I will print the entire report on the bottom of this page (HERE if you want to read it NOW) if you want to read it for your yourself, but let me say that I TOTALLY disagree with the foundation of the policy that most all of our police agencies utilize to train for (NOT MUCH) and execute chases.
I WANT the police to chase "the bad guys," but in MOST of the police chases, the offense is minor, and the resulting chase is NOT...NOT worth the risk to the public. So....what I believe MUST happen is a complete re-look at the policy and TRAINING that our public safety officers get (at this point...about 40 hours....and no RE-TRAINING even though these skills lose efficacy over time)...and a re-focus on the public NOT being endangered FIRST, and only then, the safety of the officers considered. This is not to say I want their safety to be compromised....on the contrary....all my experience in the safety of our streets and police (30 years of teaching)...tells me that the Police will be WAY safer with the re-focused position.
Technology has changed in 30 years, but when you see that it takes a SPIKE STRIP many times to stop the insane danger a fleeing motorist causes.....you have to wonder. MANY things have been tried from literally "Harpooning" another car to firing a dart that attaches to a fleeing vehicle that kills the motor instantly. You can Google various techniques that have been tried over the years, and why they have been discounted (the Police believe that killing an engine suddenly puts MORE danger to surrounding cars and people because the car becomes instantly uncontrollable).
But MY solution requires that more RESOURCES (that means $$$ folks) be put into TRAINING and RE-TRAINING of our police to stop the SENSELESS killing that these pursuits cause. But as long as we live in a society that puts OTHER VALUES before the public safety (political and financial)....people like 15 year old JACK PHOENIX, who was literally decapitated by a fleeing suspected CAR THIEF while he crossed the street in L.A., will continue to happen (You can read the sad story of this wonderful kid, here). The killer of Jack went to prison.....but it should NOT have happened in the first place. He was killed in vain, sadly still, to this day.
Here is the entire LA GRAND JURY REPORT (10 pages).